Discrimination of real and sham acupuncture needles using the Park sham device: a preliminary study

Chee Wee Tan*, Lauren Christie, Véronique St-Georges, Nicola Telford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To evaluate the blinding effectiveness of the Park sham acupuncture device using participants' ability to discriminate between the real and sham acupuncture needles. 

Design: The design was a yes-no experiment. Judgments were made on whether the real or sham acupuncture needle was administered. 

Setting: University laboratory. 

Participants: Healthy, acupuncture-naive university students and staff (N=20; median age, 22y; range, 18-48y) recruited through convenience sampling. 

Interventions: Participants made yes-no judgments on whether the real or sham needle was administered to 8 acupoints (4 traditional and 4 nontraditional) along the Pericardium meridian (Pericardium 3 to Pericardium 6) on the dominant forearm. 

Main Outcome Measures: The accuracy index, d′, of participants' ability to discriminate between the real and sham needles (discriminability) was computed for the traditional alone, the nontraditional alone, and a combination of both types of acupoints. 

Results: The participants' d′ between the real and sham needles was not statistically significant from d′ equal to 0 for the combined traditional and nontraditional acupoints comparison and the nontraditional acupoints alone comparison (combined, t19=1.20, P=.25; nontraditional, t19=.16, P=.87). However, the participants' d′ was statistically significant from d′ equal to 0 for the traditional acupoints comparison (t19=2.096, P=.049). 

Conclusions: The Park sham acupuncture device appears to be effective in blinding participants to real acupuncture intervention when it is applied to the nontraditional acupoints and when traditional and nontraditional acupoints are combined on the forearm along the pericardium meridian. However, the sham device does not appear to blind participants effectively when traditional acupoints alone are used for the same context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2141-2145
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Volume90
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009

Keywords

  • acupuncture
  • placebos
  • rehabilitation
  • signal detection, psychological
  • validation studies at topic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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