Author Topic: another acupuncture study  (Read 353 times)

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Offline blackorwat

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another acupuncture study
« on: February 27, 2017, 03:03:07 PM »
A friend of mine posted this to his FB page:

Please comment on any critiques of this study you all may have. 

Offline Caffiene

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Re: another acupuncture study
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2017, 07:04:45 PM »
I dont have relevant experience to really analyse it, but my initial impression is that it seems of higher quality than many acupuncture studies Ive read but still has some strange elements.

One thing that stands out to me in the Depression study section is the "Treatment Concordance" (aka, what treatment wing did the subject want to be put in vs what treatment wing did the patient get randomised to).

58.8% of the acupuncture wing wanted to be in the acupuncture wing, while 59.9% of the counseling wing didnt want to be in the counseling wing. Although we dont have actual data given for which wing they preferred, the non-acupuncture + non-counseling wing had only 1 person out of 151 who actually wanted to be in that wing so it seems reasonable to assume the large majority of people wanted to be in either the acupuncture or counseling wing: If we simply ignore the existence of the "neither" wing to get a rough estimate, we have 57 + 75 = 132 (21.9%) who wanted counseling vs 177 + 178 = 355 (58.8%) who wanted acupuncture.

In other words, it seems likely that a large majority of participants for the study came in already wanting acupuncture. To me, if your participants are coming in to the study being nearly three times as likely to prefer acupuncture to counseling (especially where there is no such trend known to exist in the general public) that points to a significant problem with selection bias in the recruiting method for the study.

I suspect, but am not familiar enough with statistics and the study design to back it up, that the earlier meta analysis part may have similar problems: They focus fairly strongly on blinding in their quality analysis and study selection criteria but seem to put less emphasis on other problems such as selection bias and p-hacking.
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Offline HanEyeAm

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Re: another acupuncture study
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2017, 06:58:09 AM »
A brief scan of the depression trial suggested other oddities. The article did not explain how they diagnosed depression or other exclusion diagnoses. They used a cut score on the BDI-II as an inclusion criterion which is rather odd- diagnosis and severity would usually be determined through structured and standardized interview. It looks like the PHQ-9 was used as an oitcome measure but was not administered at baseline, again which is odd. Finally, they employed humanistic psychotherapy, which is not a front line or empirically supported approach for depression, as far as I know from CPGs. All that, and even moreso Caffeine's observations, lead me to question the study's strength of evidence.

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