Acupuncture therapies for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review of randomized, controlled trials



Acupuncture therapies for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review of randomized, controlled trials


Journal Publication





Research Type

Systematic Review



CONTEXT: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality and is projected to be the third leading cause of death by 2030. Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese therapy, has been used for more than 2000 years to treat respiratory conditions and may treat COPD effectively. In previous literature reviews, researchers have noted significant heterogeneity among the included studies, and none of the reviewers found convincing evidence to recommend routine use of acupuncture therapies for COPD. OBJECTIVE: This literature review examined the efficacy and safety of acupuncture therapies for patients with COPD in improving lung function, increasing exercise capacity, creating positive subjective changes in symptoms, and enhancing health-related quality of life (QoL). DESIGN: The research team searched the following electronic databases from inception to April 2013: PubMed, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Allied and Complementary Medicine Database (AMED), Embase (Elsevier), the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), Chongqing VIP Information Company (CQVIP), the Chinese Biomedical Literature Database (CBM), and Wanfang Data. The review included randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the benefits of acupuncture or other related therapies for treatment of COPD. Data were extracted into a predefined form; risk of bias was assessed according to the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool; and statistical analyses were made. RESULTS: In total, 16 studies were included in the review. The research team found that the acupuncture therapies used in these studies improved health-related QoL. The team's conclusions, comparing results from the interventions with placebo, were based on data from 3 questionnaires that the studies used: (1) the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), with a mean difference (MD) of -8.33 units (95% CI, -13.13 to -3.53); (2) dyspnea on the Medical Research Council's (MRC's) dyspnea scale, with an MD of -0.34 units (95% CI, -0.38 to -0.30); and (3) the Dyspnea Visual Analogue Scale (DVAS), with an MD of -8.85 mm (95% CI, -11.81 to -5.89). Compared with placebo, acupuncture therapies also increased the distance walked in 6 min (6MWT), with an MD of -28.14 (95% CI, 23.92 to 32.36) compared with placebo. No benefit was seen on measures of lung function when acupuncture therapies were compared with either placebo or drug therapy. CONCLUSION: Acupuncture therapies may result in clinically important improvements in QoL and dyspnea. Future high-quality RCTs should be undertaken to provide conclusive evidence concerning the benefits of acupuncture therapies in the treatment of COPD.



View on Pubmed



Number of Participants

16 studies

has health condition studied

Respiratory Tract Diseases

Item sets