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1.  World Congress Integrative Medicine & Health 2017: Part one 
Brinkhaus, Benno | Falkenberg, Torkel | Haramati, Aviad | Willich, Stefan N. | Briggs, Josephine P. | Willcox, Merlin | Linde, Klaus | Theorell, Töres | Wong, Lisa M. | Dusek, Jeffrey | Wu, Darong | Eisenberg, David | Haramati, Aviad | Berger, Bettina | Kemper, Kathi | Stock-Schröer, Beate | Sützl-Klein, Hedda | Ferreri, Rosaria | Kaplan, Gary | Matthes, Harald | Rotter, Gabriele | Schiff, Elad | Arnon, Zahi | Hahn, Eckhard | Luberto, Christina M. | Martin, David | Schwarz, Silke | Tauschel, Diethard | Flower, Andrew | Gramminger, Harsha | Gupta, Hedwig H. | Gupta, S. N. | Kerckhoff, Annette | Kessler, Christian S. | Michalsen, Andreas | Kessler, Christian S. | Kim, Eun S. | Jang, Eun H. | Kim, Rana | Jan, Sae B. | Mittwede, Martin | Mohme, Wiebke | Ben-Arye, Eran | Bonucci, Massimo | Saad, Bashar | Breitkreuz, Thomas | Rossi, Elio | Kebudi, Rejin | Daher, Michel | Razaq, Samaher | Gafer, Nahla | Nimri, Omar | Hablas, Mohamed | Kienle, Gunver Sophia | Samuels, Noah | Silbermann, Michael | Bandelin, Lena | Lang, Anna-Lena | Wartner, Eva | Holtermann, Christoph | Binstock, Maxwell | Riebau, Robert | Mujkanovic, Edin | Cramer, Holger | Lauche, Romy | Michalsen, Andres | Ward, Lesley | Cramer, Holger | Irnich, Dominik | Stör, Wolfram | Burnstock, Geoffrey | Schaible, Hans-Georg | Ots, Thomas | Langhorst, Jost | Lauche, Romy | Sundberg, Tobias | Falkenberg, Torkel | Amarell, Catherina | Amarell, Catherina | Anheyer, Melanie | Eckert, Marion | Eckert, Marion | Ogal, Mercedes | Eckert, Marion | Amarell, Catherina | Schönauer, Annette | Reisenberger, Birgit | Brand, Bernhard | Anheyer, Dennis | Dobos, Gustav | Kroez, Matthias | Martin, David | Matthes, Harald | Ammendola, Aldo | Mao, Jun J. | Witt, Claudia | Yang, Yufei | Dobos, Gustav | Oritz, Miriam | Horneber, Markus | Voiß, Petra | Reisenberger, Birgit | von Rosenstiel, Alexandra | Eckert, Marion | Ogal, Mercedes | Amarell, Catharina | Anheyer, Melanie | Schad, Friedemann | Schläppi, Marc | Kröz, Matthias | Büssing, Arndt | Bar-Sela, Gil | Matthes, Harald | Schiff, Elad | Ben-Arye, Eran | Arnon, Zahi | Avshalomov, David | Attias, Samuel | Schönauer, Annette | Haramati, Aviad | Witt, Claudia | Brinkhaus, Benno | Cotton, Sian | Jong, Miek | Jong, Mats | Scheffer, Christian | Haramati, Aviad | Tauschel, Diethard | Edelhäuser, Friedrich | AlBedah, Abdullah | Lee, Myeong Soo | Khalil, Mohamed | Ogawa, Keiko | Motoo, Yoshiharu | Arimitsu, Junsuke | Ogawa, Masao | Shimizu, Genki | Stange, Rainer | Kraft, Karin | Kuchta, Kenny | Watanabe, Kenji | Bonin, D | Büssing, Arndt | Gruber, Harald | Koch, Sabine | Gruber, Harald | Pohlmann, Urs | Caldwell, Christine | Krantz, Barbara | Kortum, Ria | Martin, Lily | Wieland, Lisa S. | Kligler, Ben | Gould-Fogerite, Susan | Zhang, Yuqing | Wieland, Lisa S. | Riva, John J. | Lumpkin, Michael | Ratner, Emily | Ping, Liu | Jian, Pei | Hamme, Gesa-Meyer | Mao, Xiaosong | Chouping, Han | Schröder, Sven | Hummelsberger, Josef | Wullinger, Michael | Brodzky, Marc | Zalpour, Christoff | Langley, Julia | Weber, Wendy | Mudd, Lanay M. | Wayne, Peter | Witt, Clauda | Weidenhammer, Wolfgang | Fønnebø, Vinjar | Boon, Heather | Steel, Amie | Bugarcic, Andrea | Rangitakatu, Melisa | Steel, Amie | Adams, Jon | Sibbritt, David | Wardle, Jon | Leach, Matthew | Schloss, Janet | Dieze, Helene | Boon, Heather | Ijaz, Nadine | Willcox, Merlin | Heinrich, Michael | Lewith, George | Flower, Andrew | Graz, Bertrand | Adam, Daniela | Grabenhenrich, Linus | Ortiz, Miriam | Binting, Sylvia | Reinhold, Thomas | Brinkhaus, Benno | Andermo, Susanne | Sundberg, Tobias | Falkenberg, Torkel | Nordberg, Johanna Hök | Arman, Maria | Bhasin, Manoj | Fan, Xueyi | Libermann, Towia | Fricchione, Gregory | Denninger, John | Benson, Herbert | Berger, Bettina | Stange, Rainer | Michalsen, Andreas | Martin, David D. | Boers, Inge | Vlieger, Arine | Jong, Miek | Brinkhaus, Benno | Teut, Michael | Ullmann, Alexander | Ortiz, Miriam | Rotter, Gabriele | Binting, Sylvia | Lotz, Fabian | Roll, Stephanie | Canella, Claudia | Mikolasek, Michael | Rostock, Matthias | Beyer, Jörg | Guckenberger, Matthias | Jenewein, Josef | Linka, Esther | Six, Claudia | Stoll, Sarah | Stupp, Roger | Witt, Claudia M. | Chuang, Elisabeth | Kligler, Ben | McKee, Melissa D. | Cramer, Holger | Lauche, Romy | Klose, Petra | Lange, Silke | Langhorst, Jost | Dobos, Gustav | Chung, Vincent C. H. | Wong, Hoi L. C. | Wu, Xin Y. | Wen, Grace Y. G. | Ho, Robin S. T. | Ching, Jessica Y. L. | Wu, Justin C. Y. | Coakley, Amanda | Flanagan, Jane | Annese, Christine | Empoliti, Joanne | Gao, Zishan | Liu, Xugang | Yu, Shuguang | Yan, Xianzhong | Liang, Fanrong | Hohmann, Christoph D. | Steckhan, Nico | Ostermann, Thomas | Paetow, Arion | Hoff, Evelyn | Michalsen, Andreas | Hu, Xiao-Yang | Wu, Ruo-Han | Logue, Martin | Blonde, Clara | Lai, Lily Y. | Stuart, Beth | Flower, Andrew | Fei, Yu-Tong | Moore, Michael | Liu, Jian-Ping | Lewith, George | Hu, Xiao-Yang | Wu, Ruo-Han | Logue, Martin | Blonde, Clara | Lai, Lily Y. | Stuart, Beth | Flower, Andrew | Fei, Yu-Tong | Moore, Michael | Liu, Jian-Ping | Lewith, George | Jeitler, Michael | Zillgen, Hannah | Högl, Manuel | Steckhan, Nico | Stöckigt, Barbara | Seifert, Georg | Michalsen, Andreas | Kessler, Christian | Khadivzadeh, Talat | Bashtian, Maryam Hassanzadeh | Aval, Shapour Badiee | Esmaily, Habibollah | Kim, Jihye | Kim, Keun H. | Klocke, Carina | Joos, Stefanie | Koshak, Abdulrahman | Wie, Li | Koshak, Emad | Wali, Siraj | Alamoudi, Omer | Demerdash, Abdulrahman | Qutub, Majdy | Pushparaj, Peter | Heinrich, Michael | Kruse, Sigrid | Fischer, Isabell | Tremel, Nadine | Rosenecker, Joseph | Leung, Brenda | Takeda, Wendy | Liang, Ning | Feng, Xue | Liu, Jian-ping | Cao, Hui-juan | Luberto, Christina M. | Shinday, Nina | Philpotts, Lisa | Park, Elyse | Fricchione, Gregory L. | Yeh, Gloria | Munk, Niki | Zakeresfahani, Arash | Foote, Trevor R. | Ralston, Rick | Boulanger, Karen | Özbe, Dominik | Gräßel, Elmar | Luttenberger, Katharina | Pendergrass, Anna | Pach, Daniel | Bellmann-Strobl, Judit | Chang, Yinhui | Pasura, Laura | Liu, Bin | Jäger, Sven F. | Loerch, Ronny | Jin, Li | Brinkhaus, Benno | Ortiz, Miriam | Reinhold, Thomas | Roll, Stephanie | Binting, Sylvia | Icke, Katja | Shi, Xuemin | Paul, Friedemann | Witt, Claudia M. | Rütz, Michaela | Lynen, Andreas | Schömitz, Meike | Vahle, Maik | Salomon, Nir | Lang, Alon | Lahat, Adi | Kopylov, Uri | Ben-Horin, Shomron | Har-Noi, Ofir | Avidan, Benjamin | Elyakim, Rami | Gamus, Dorit | NG, Siew | Chang, Jessica | Wu, Justin | Kaimiklotis, John | Schumann, Dania | Buttó, Ludovica | Langhorst, Jost | Dobos, Gustav | Haller, Dirk | Cramer, Holger | Smith, Caroline | de Lacey, Sheryl | Chapman, Michael | Ratcliffe, Julie | Johnson, Neil | Lyttleton, Jane | Boothroyd, Clare | Fahey, Paul | Tjaden, Bram | van Vliet, Marja | van Wietmarschen, Herman | Jong, Miek | Tröger, Wilfried | Vuolanto, Pia | Aarva, Paulina | Sorsa, Minna | Helin, Kaija | Wenzel, Claudia | Zoderer, Iris | Pammer, Patricia | Simon, Patrick | Tucek, Gerhard | Wode, Kathrin | Henriksson, Roger | Sharp, Lena | Stoltenberg, Anna | Nordberg, Johanna Hök | Xiao-ying, Yang | Wang, Li-qiong | Li, Jin-gen | Liang, Ning | Wang, Ying | Liu, Jian-ping | Balneaves, Lynda | Capler, Rielle | Bocci, Chiara | Guffi, Marta | Paolini, Marina | Meaglia, Ilaria | Porcu, Patrizia | Ivaldi, Giovanni B. | Dragan, Simona | Bucuras, Petru | Pah, Ana M. | Badalica-Petrescu, Marius | Buleu, Florina | Hogea-Stoichescu, Gheorghe | Christodorescu, Ruxandra | Kao, Lan | Cho, Yumin | Klafke, Nadja | Mahler, Cornelia | von Hagens, Cornelia | Uhlmann, Lorenz | Bentner, Martina | Schneeweiss, Andreas | Mueller, Andreas | Szecsenyi, Joachim | Joos, Stefanie | Neri, Isabella | Ortiz, Miriam | Schnabel, Katharina | Teut, Michael | Rotter, Gabriele | Binting, Sylvia | Cree, Margit | Lotz, Fabian | Suhr, Ralf | Brinkhaus, Benno | Rossi, Elio | Baccetti, Sonia | Firenzuoli, Fabio | Monechi, Maria V. | Di Stefano, Mariella | Amunni, Gianni | Wong, Wendy | Chen, Bingzhong | Wu, Justin | Amri, Hakima | Haramati, Aviad | Kotlyanskaya, Lucy | Anderson, Belinda | Evans, Roni | Kligler, Ben | Marantz, Paul | Bradley, Ryan | Booth-LaForce, Cathryn | Zwickey, Heather | Kligler, Benjamin | Brooks, Audrey | Kreitzer, Mary J. | Lebensohn, Patricia | Goldblatt, Elisabeth | Esmel-Esmel, Neus | Jiménez-Herrera, Maria | Ijaz, Nadine | Boon, Heather | Jocham, Alexandra | Stock-Schröer, Beate | Berberat, Pascal O. | Schneider, Antonius | Linde, Klaus | Masetti, Morgana | Murakozy, Henriette | Van Vliet, Marja | Jong, Mats | Jong, Miek | Agdal, Rita | Atarzadeh, Fatemeh | Jaladat, Amir M. | Hoseini, Leila | Amini, Fatemeh | Bai, Chen | Liu, Tiegang | Zheng, Zian | Wan, Yuxiang | Xu, Jingnan | Wang, Xuan | Yu, He | Gu, Xiaohong | Daneshfard, Babak | Nimrouzi, Majid | Tafazoli, Vahid | Alorizi, Seyed M. Emami | Saghebi, Seyed A. | Fattahi, Mohammad R. | Salehi, Alireza | Rezaeizadeh, Hossein | Zarshenas, Mohammad M. | Nimrouzi, Majid | Fox, Kealoha | Hughes, John | Kostanjsek, Nenad | Espinosa, Stéphane | Lewith, George | Fisher, Peter | Latif, Abdul | Lefeber, Donald | Paske, William | Öztürk, Ali Ö. | Öztürk, Gizemnur | Boers, Inge | Tissing, Wim | Naafs, Marianne | Busch, Martine | Jong, Miek | Daneshfard, Babak | Sanaye, Mohammad R. | Dräger, Kilian | Fisher, Peter | Kreitzer, Mary J. | Evans, Roni | Leininger, Brent | Shafto, Kate | Breen, Jenny | Sanaye, Mohammad R. | Daneshfard, Babak | Simões-Wüst, Ana P. | Moltó-Puigmartí, Carolina | van Dongen, Martien | Dagnelie, Pieter | Thijs, Carel | White, Shelley | Wiesener, Solveig | Salamonsen, Anita | Stub, Trine | Fønnebø, Vinjar | Abanades, Sergio | Blanco, Mar | Masllorens, Laia | Sala, Roser | Al-Ahnoumy, Shafekah | Han, Dongwoon | He, Luzhu | Kim, Ha Yun | In Choi, Da | Alræk, Terje | Stub, Trine | Kristoffersen, Agnete | von Sceidt, Christel | Michalsen, Andreas | Bruset, Stig | Musial, Frauke | Anheyer, Dennis | Cramer, Holger | Lauche, Romy | Saha, Felix J. | Dobos, Gustav | Anheyer, Dennis | Haller, Heidemarie | Lauche, Romy | Dobos, Gustav | Cramer, Holger | Azizi, Hoda | Khadem, Nayereh | Hassanzadeh, Malihe | Estiri, Nazanin | Azizi, Hamideh | Tavassoli, Fatemeh | Lotfalizadeh, Marzieh | Zabihi, Reza | Esmaily, Habibollah | Azizi, Hoda | Shabestari, Mahmoud Mohammadzadeh | Paeizi, Reza | Azari, Masoumeh Alvandi | Bahrami-Taghanaki, Hamidreza | Zabihi, Reza | Azizi, Hamideh | Esmaily, Habibollah | Baars, Erik | De Bruin, Anja | Ponstein, Anne | Baccetti, Sonia | Di Stefano, Mariella | Rossi, Elio | Firenzuoli, Fabio | Segantini, Sergio | Monechi, Maria Valeria | Voller, Fabio | Barth, Jürgen | Kern, Alexandra | Lüthi, Sebastian | Witt, Claudia | Barth, Jürgen | Zieger, Anja | Otto, Fabius | Witt, Claudia | Beccia, Ariel | Dunlap, Corina | Courneene, Brendan | Bedregal, Paula | Passi, Alvaro | Rodríguez, Alfredo | Chang, Mayling | Gutiérrez, Soledad | Beissner, Florian | Beissner, Florian | Preibisch, Christine | Schweizer-Arau, Annemarie | Popovici, Roxana | Meissner, Karin | Beljanski, Sylvie | Belland, Laura | Rivera-Reyes, Laura | Hwang, Ula | Berger, Bettina | Sethe, Dominik | Hilgard, Dörte | Heusser, Peter | Bishop, Felicity | Al-Abbadey, Miznah | Bradbury, Katherine | Carnes, Dawn | Dimitrov, Borislav | Fawkes, Carol | Foster, Jo | MacPherson, Hugh | Roberts, Lisa | Yardley, Lucy | Lewith, George | Bishop, Felicity | Al-Abbadey, Miznah | Bradbury, Katherine | Carnes, Dawn | Dimitrov, Borislav | Fawkes, Carol | Foster, Jo | MacPherson, Hugh | Roberts, Lisa | Yardley, Lucy | Lewith, George | Bishop, Felicity | Holmes, Michelle | Lewith, George | Yardley, Lucy | Little, Paul | Cooper, Cyrus | Bogani, Patrizia | Maggini, Valentina | Gallo, Eugenia | Miceli, Elisangela | Biffi, Sauro | Mengoni, Alessio | Fani, Renato | Firenzuoli, Fabio | Brands-Guendling, Nadine | Guendling, Peter W. | Bronfort, Gert | Evans, Roni | Haas, Mitch | Leininger, Brent | Schulz, Craig | Bu, Xiangwei | Wang, J. | Fang, T. | Shen, Z. | He, Y. | Zhang, X. | Zhang, Zhengju | Wang, Dali | Meng, Fengxian | Büssing, Arndt | Baumann, Klaus | Frick, Eckhard | Jacobs, Christoph | Büssing, Arndt | Grünther, Ralph-Achim | Lötzke, Désirée | Büssing, Arndt | Jung, Sonny | Lötzke, Désirée | Recchia, Daniela R. | Robens, Sibylle | Ostermann, Thomas | Berger, Bettina | Stankewitz, Josephin | Kröz, Matthias | Jeitler, Mika | Kessler, Christian | Michalsen, Andreas | Cheon, Chunhoo | Jang, Bo H. | Ko, Seong G. | Huang, Ching W. | Sasaki, Yui | Ko, Youme | Cheshire, Anna | Ridge, Damien | Hughes, John | Peters, David | Panagioti, Maria | Simon, Chantal | Lewith, George | Cho, Hyun J. | Han, Dongwoon | Choi, Soo J. | Jung, Young S. | Im, Hyea B | Cooley, Kieran | Tummon-Simmons, Laura | Cotton, Sian | Luberto, Christina M. | Wasson, Rachel | Kraemer, Kristen | Sears, Richard | Hueber, Carly | Derk, Gwendolyn | Lill, JR | An, Ruopeng | Steinberg, Lois | Rodriguez, Lourdes Diaz | la Fuente, Francisca García-de | De la Vega, Miguel | Vargas-Román, Keyla | Fernández-Ruiz, Jonatan | Cantarero-Villanueva, Irene | Rodriguez, Lourdes Diaz | García-De la Fuente, Francisca | Jiménez-Guerrero, Fanny | Vargas-Román, Keyla | Fernández-Ruiz, Jonatan | Galiano-Castillo, Noelia | Diaz-Saez, Gualberto | Torres-Jimenez, José I. | Garcia-Gomez, Olga | Hortal-Muñoz, Luis | Diaz-Diez, Camino | Dicen, Demijon | Diezel, Helene | Adams, Jon | Steel, Amie | Wardle, Jon | Diezel, Helene | Steel, Amie | Frawley, Jane | Wardle, Jon | Broom, Alex | Adams, Jon | Dong, Fei | Yu, He | Liu, Tiegang | Ma, Xueyan | Yan, Liyi | Wan, Yuxiang | Zheng, Zian | Gu, Xiaohong | Dong, Fei | Yu, He | Wu, Liqun | Liu, Tiegang | Ma, Xueyan | Ma, Jiaju | Yan, Liyi | Wan, Yuxiang | Zheng, Zian | Zhen, Jianhua | Gu, Xiaohong | Dubois, Julie | Rodondi, Pierre-Yves | Edelhäuser, Friedrich | Schwartze, Sophia | Trapp, Barbara | Cysarz, Dirk
doi:10.1186/s12906-017-1782-4
PMCID: PMC5498855
2.  Impact of regional socioeconomic variation on coordination and cost of ambulatory care: investigation of claims data from Bavaria, Germany 
BMJ Open  2017;7(10):e016218.
Objectives
A considerable proportion of regional variation in healthcare use and health expenditures is to date still unexplained. The aim was to investigate regional differences in the gatekeeping role of general practitioners and to identify relevant explanatory variables at patient and district level in Bavaria, Germany.
Design
Retrospective routine data analysis using claims data held by the Bavarian Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians.
Participants
All patients who consulted a specialist in ambulatory practice within the first quarter of 2011 (n=3 616 510).
Outcomes measures
Of primary interest is the effect of district-level measures of rurality, physician density and multiple deprivation on (1) the proportion of patients with general practitioner (GP) coordination of specialist care and (2) the mean amount in Euros claimed by specialist physicians.
Results
The proportion of patients whose use of specialist services was coordinated by a GP was significantly higher in rural areas and in highly deprived regions, as compared with urban and less deprived regions. The hierarchical models revealed that increasing age and the presence of chronic diseases are the strongest predictive factors for coordination by a GP. In contrast, the presence of mental illness, an increasing number of medical condition categories and living in a city are predictors for specialist use without GP coordination. The amount claimed per patient was €10 to €20 higher in urban districts and in regions with lower deprivation. Hierarchical models indicate that this amount is on average higher for patients living in towns and lower for patients in regions with high deprivation.
Conclusion
The present study shows that regional deprivation is closely associated with the way in which patients access primary and specialist care. This has clear consequences, both with respect to the role of the general practitioner and the financial costs of care.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016218
PMCID: PMC5665322  PMID: 29061608
healthcare research; regional variation; coordinated healthcare; gatekeeping; regional deprivation
3.  Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine 
Background
Acupuncture is often used for migraine prevention but its effectiveness is still controversial. We present an update of our Cochrane review from 2009.
Objectives
To investigate whether acupuncture is a) more effective than no prophylactic treatment/routine care only; b) more effective than sham (placebo) acupuncture; and c) as effective as prophylactic treatment with drugs in reducing headache frequency in adults with episodic migraine.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL: 2016, issue 1); MEDLINE (via Ovid, 2008 to January 2016); Ovid EMBASE (2008 to January 2016); and Ovid AMED (1985 to January 2016). We checked PubMed for recent publications to April 2016. We searched the World Health Organization (WHO) Clinical Trials Registry Platform to February 2016 for ongoing and unpublished trials.
Selection criteria
We included randomized trials at least eight weeks in duration that compared an acupuncture intervention with a no-acupuncture control (no prophylactic treatment or routine care only), a sham-acupuncture intervention, or prophylactic drug in participants with episodic migraine.
Data collection and analysis
Two reviewers checked eligibility; extracted information on participants, interventions, methods and results, and assessed risk of bias and quality of the acupuncture intervention. The primary outcome was migraine frequency (preferably migraine days, attacks or headache days if migraine days not measured/reported) after treatment and at follow-up. The secondary outcome was response (at least 50% frequency reduction). Safety outcomes were number of participants dropping out due to adverse effects and number of participants reporting at least one adverse effect. We calculated pooled effect size estimates using a fixed-effect model. We assessed the evidence using GRADE and created ’Summary of findings’ tables.
Main results
Twenty-two trials including 4985 participants in total (median 71, range 30 to 1715) met our updated selection criteria. We excluded five previously included trials from this update because they included people who had had migraine for less than 12 months, and included five new trials. Five trials had a no-acupuncture control group (either treatment of attacks only or non-regulated routine care), 15 a sham-acupuncture control group, and five a comparator group receiving prophylactic drug treatment. In comparisons with no-acupuncture control groups and groups receiving prophylactic drug treatment, there was risk of performance and detection bias as blinding was not possible. Overall the quality of the evidence was moderate.
Comparison with no acupuncture
Acupuncture was associated with a moderate reduction of headache frequency over no acupuncture after treatment (four trials, 2199 participants; standardised mean difference (SMD) −0.56; 95% CI −0.65 to −0.48); findings were statistically heterogeneous (I2 = 57%; moderate quality evidence). After treatment headache frequency at least halved in 41% of participants receiving acupuncture and 17% receiving no acupuncture (pooled risk ratio (RR) 2.40; 95% CI 2.08 to 2.76; 4 studies, 2519 participants) with a corresponding number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome (NNTB) of 4 (95% CI 3 to 6); there was no indication of statistical heterogeneity (I2 = 7%; moderate quality evidence). The only trial with post-treatment follow-up found a small but significant benefit 12 months after randomisation (RR 2.16; 95% CI 1.35 to 3.45; NNT 7; 95% 4 to 25; 377 participants, low quality evidence).
Comparison with sham acupuncture
Both after treatment (12 trials, 1646 participants) and at follow-up (10 trials, 1534 participants), acupuncture was associated with a small but statistically significant frequency reduction over sham (moderate quality evidence). The SMD was −0.18 (95% CI −0.28 to −0.08; I2 = 47%) after treatment and −0.19 (95% CI −0.30 to −0.09; I2 = 59%) at follow-up. After treatment headache frequency at least halved in 50% of participants receiving true acupuncture and 41% receiving sham acupuncture (pooled RR 1.23, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.36; I2 = 48%; 14 trials, 1825 participants) and at follow-up in 53% and 42%, respectively (pooled RR 1.25, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.39 ; I2 = 61%; 11 trials, 1683 participants; moderate quality evidence). The corresponding NNTBs are 11 (95% CI 7.00 to 20.00) and 10 (95% CI 6.00 to 18.00), respectively. The number of participants dropping out due to adverse effects (odds ratio (OR) 2.84; 95% CI 0.43 to 18.71; 7 trials, 931 participants; low quality evidence) and the number of participants reporting adverse effects (OR 1.15; 95% CI 0.85 to 1.56; 4 trials, 1414 participants; moderate quality evidence) did not differ significantly between acupuncture and sham groups.
Comparison with prophylactic drug treatment
Acupuncture reduced migraine frequency significantly more than drug prophylaxis after treatment (SMD −0.25; 95% CI −0.39 to −0.10; 3 trials, 739 participants), but the significance was not maintained at follow-up (SMD −0.13; 95% CI −0.28 to 0.01; 3 trials, 744 participants; moderate quality evidence). After three months headache frequency at least halved in 57% of participants receiving acupuncture and 46% receiving prophylactic drugs (pooled RR 1.24; 95% CI 1.08 to 1.44) and after six months in 59% and 54%, respectively (pooled RR 1.11; 95% CI 0.97 to 1.26; moderate quality evidence). Findings were consistent among trials with I2 being 0% in all analyses. Trial participants receiving acupuncture were less likely to drop out due to adverse effects (OR 0.27; 95% CI 0.08 to 0.86; 4 trials, 451 participants) and to report adverse effects (OR 0.25; 95% CI 0.10 to 0.62; 5 trials 931 participants) than participants receiving prophylactic drugs (moderate quality evidence).
Authors’ conclusions
The available evidence suggests that adding acupuncture to symptomatic treatment of attacks reduces the frequency of headaches. Contrary to the previous findings, the updated evidence also suggests that there is an effect over sham, but this effect is small. The available trials also suggest that acupuncture may be at least similarly effective as treatment with prophylactic drugs. Acupuncture can be considered a treatment option for patients willing to undergo this treatment. As for other migraine treatments, long-term studies, more than one year in duration, are lacking.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001218.pub3
PMCID: PMC4977344  PMID: 27351677
4.  Acupuncture for the prevention of tension-type headache 
Background
Acupuncture is often used for prevention of tension-type headache but its effectiveness is still controversial. This is an update of our Cochrane review originally published in Issue 1, 2009 of The Cochrane Library.
Objectives
To investigate whether acupuncture is a) more effective than no prophylactic treatment/routine care only; b) more effective than ‘sham’ (placebo) acupuncture; and c) as effective as other interventions in reducing headache frequency in adults with episodic or chronic tension-type headache.
Search methods
We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE and AMED to 19 January 2016. We searched the World Health Organization (WHO) International Clinical Trials Registry Platform to 10 February 2016 for ongoing and unpublished trials.
Selection criteria
We included randomised trials with a post-randomisation observation period of at least eight weeks, which compared the clinical effects of an acupuncture intervention with a control (treatment of acute headaches only or routine care), a sham acupuncture intervention or another prophylactic intervention in adults with episodic or chronic tension-type headache.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors checked eligibility; extracted information on participants, interventions, methods and results; and assessed study risk of bias and the quality of the acupuncture intervention. The main efficacy outcome measure was response (at least 50% reduction of headache frequency) after completion of treatment (three to four months after randomisation). To assess safety/acceptability we extracted the number of participants dropping out due to adverse effects and the number of participants reporting adverse effects. We assessed the quality of the evidence using GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation).
Main results
Twelve trials (11 included in the previous version and one newly identified) with 2349 participants (median 56, range 10 to 1265) met the inclusion criteria.
Acupuncture was compared with routine care or treatment of acute headaches only in two large trials (1265 and 207 participants), but they had quite different baseline headache frequency and management in the control groups. Neither trial was blinded but trial quality was otherwise high (low risk of bias). While effect size estimates of the two trials differed considerably, the proportion of participants experiencing at least 50% reduction of headache frequency was much higher in groups receiving acupuncture than in control groups (moderate quality evidence; trial 1: 302/629 (48%) versus 121/636 (19%); risk ratio (RR) 2.5; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.1 to 3.0; trial 2: 60/132 (45%) versus 3/75 (4%); RR 11; 95% CI 3.7 to 35). Long-term effects (beyond four months) were not investigated.
Acupuncture was compared with sham acupuncture in seven trials of moderate to high quality (low risk of bias); five large studies provided data for one or more meta-analyses. Among participants receiving acupuncture, 205 of 391 (51%) had at least 50% reduction of headache frequency compared to 133 of 312 (43%) in the sham group after treatment (RR 1.3; 95% CI 1.09 to 1.5; four trials; moderate quality evidence). Results six months after randomisation were similar. Withdrawals were low: 1 of 420 participants receiving acupuncture dropped out due to adverse effects and 0 of 343 receiving sham (six trials; low quality evidence). Three trials reported the number of participants reporting adverse effects: 29 of 174 (17%) with acupuncture versus 12 of 103 with sham (12%; odds ratio (OR) 1.3; 95% CI 0.60 to 2.7; low quality evidence).
Acupuncture was compared with physiotherapy, massage or exercise in four trials of low to moderate quality (high risk of bias); study findings were inadequately reported. No trial found a significant superiority of acupuncture and for some outcomes the results slightly favoured the comparison therapy. None of these trials reported the number of participants dropping out due to adverse effects or the number of participants reporting adverse effects.
Overall, the quality of the evidence assessed using GRADE was moderate or low, downgraded mainly due to a lack of blinding and variable effect sizes.
Authors’ conclusions
The available results suggest that acupuncture is effective for treating frequent episodic or chronic tension-type headaches, but further trials - particularly comparing acupuncture with other treatment options - are needed.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007587.pub2
PMCID: PMC4955729  PMID: 27092807
5.  How do medical students engaging in elective courses on acupuncture and homeopathy differ from unselected students? A survey 
Background
We aimed to investigate whether students at German medical schools participating in elective courses on acupuncture and homeopathy differ from an unselected group of students regarding attitudes and personality traits.
Methods
Elective courses on acupuncture and homeopathy in the academic half-year 2013/14 all over Germany were identified and participants invited to fill in a questionnaire including nineteen questions on attitudes towards Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), orientation towards science, care and status orientation, and a short validated instrument (Big-Five-Inventory-10) to measure personality traits (extraversion, neuroticism, openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness). Participants of a mandatory family medicine course at one university served as unselected control group.
Results
Two hundred twenty and 113 students from elective courses on acupuncture and homeopathy, respectively, and 315 control students participated (response rate 93%). Students participating in elective courses had much more positive attitudes towards CAM, somewhat lower science and status orientation, and somewhat higher care orientation than control group students (all p-values for three-group comparisons < 0.001). There were no differences between the three groups regarding personality traits with the exception of lower values for agreeableness in controls (p = 0.009).
Conclusions
The findings of this study show that attitudes of students participating in elective courses on acupuncture or homeopathy at German medical schools differ to a considerable degree from the attitudes of unselected students.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12906-017-1653-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12906-017-1653-z
PMCID: PMC5343393  PMID: 28274213
Complementary and alternative medicine; Medical education; Attitudes; Personality traits
6.  Costs of coordinated versus uncoordinated care in Germany: results of a routine data analysis in Bavaria 
BMJ Open  2016;6(6):e011621.
Objectives
The efficiency of a gatekeeping system for a health system, as in Germany, remains unclear particularly as access to specialist ambulatory care is not restricted. The aim was to compare the costs of coordinated versus uncoordinated patients (UP) in ambulatory care; with additional subgroup analysis of patients with mental disorders.
Design
Retrospective routine data analysis of patients with statutory health insurance, using claims data held by the Bavarian Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians. A patient was defined as uncoordinated if he or she visited at least 1 specialist without a referral from a general practitioner within a quarter. Outcomes were compared with propensity score matching analysis.
Participants
The study encompassed all statutorily insured patients in Bavaria contacting at least 1 ambulatory specialist in the first quarter of 2011 (n=3 616 510).
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Primary outcome was total costs of ambulatory care; secondary outcomes were financial claims of general physicians, specialists and for medication.
Results
The average age was 55.3 years for coordinated patients (CP, n=1 629 302), 48.3 years for UP (n=1 825 840). CP more frequently had chronic diseases (85.4%) as compared with UP (67.5%). The total unadjusted financial claim per patient was higher for UP (€234.52) than for CP (€224.41); the total adjusted difference was −€9.65 (95% CI −11.64 to −7.67), indicating lower costs for CP. The cost differences increased with increasing age. Total adjusted difference per patient with mental diseases as documented with an International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 F-diagnosis, was −€20.31 (95% CI −26.43 to −14.46).
Conclusions
Coordination of care is associated with lower ambulatory healthcare expenditures and is of particular importance for patients who are more vulnerable to medical interventions, especially for elderly and patients with mental disorders. The role of general practitioners as coordinators should be strengthened to improve care for these patients as this could also help to frame a more efficient health system.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011621
PMCID: PMC4908874  PMID: 27288386
access to care; health spending; PRIMARY CARE; organization and delivery of care
7.  Quantity, topics, methods and findings of randomised controlled trials published by German university departments of general practice – systematic review 
Trials  2016;17:211.
Background
Academic infrastructures and networks for clinical research in primary care receive little funding in Germany. We aimed to provide an overview of the quantity, topics, methods and findings of randomised controlled trials published by German university departments of general practice.
Methods
We searched Scopus (last search done in April 2015), publication lists of institutes and references of included articles. We included randomised trials published between January 2000 and December 2014 with a first or last author affiliated with a German university department of general practice or family medicine. Risk of bias was assessed with the Cochrane tool, and study findings were quantified using standardised mean differences (SMDs).
Results
Thirty-three trials met the inclusion criteria. Seventeen were cluster-randomised trials, with a majority investigating interventions aimed at improving processes compared with usual care. Sample sizes varied between 6 and 606 clusters and 168 and 7807 participants. The most frequent methodological problem was risk of selection bias due to recruitment of individuals after randomisation of clusters. Effects of interventions over usual care were mostly small (SMD <0.3). Sixteen trials randomising individual participants addressed a variety of treatment and educational interventions. Sample sizes varied between 20 and 1620 participants. The methodological quality of the trials was highly variable. Again, effects of experimental interventions over controls were mostly small.
Conclusions
Despite limited funding, German university institutes of general practice or family medicine are increasingly performing randomised trials. Cluster-randomised trials on practice improvement are a focus, but problems with allocation concealment are frequent.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13063-016-1328-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13063-016-1328-y
PMCID: PMC4842270  PMID: 27107809
Germany; Primary care; General practice; Randomised controlled trials; Academic performance
8.  Effects of a Web-Based Intervention for Stress Reduction in Primary Care: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial 
Background
Preliminary findings suggest that Web-based interventions may be effective in achieving significant stress reduction. To date, there are no findings available for primary care patients. This is the first study that investigates a Web-based intervention for stress reduction in primary care.
Objective
The aim was to examine the short-term effectiveness of a fully automated Web-based coaching program regarding stress reduction in a primary care setting.
Methods
The study was an unblinded cluster randomized trial with an observation period of 12 weeks. Individuals recruited by general practitioners randomized to the intervention group participated in a Web-based coaching program based on education, motivation, exercise guidance, daily text message reminders, and weekly feedback through the Internet. All components of the program were fully automated. Participants in the control group received usual care and advice from their practitioner without the Web-based coaching program. The main outcome was change in the Perceived Stress Questionnaire (PSQ) over 12 weeks.
Results
A total of 93 participants (40 in intervention group, 53 in control group) were recruited into the study. For 25 participants from the intervention group and 49 participants from the control group, PSQ scores at baseline and 12 weeks were available. In the intention-to-treat analysis, the PSQ score decreased by mean 8.2 (SD 12.7) in the intervention group and by mean 12.6 (SD 14.7) in the control group. There was no significant difference identified between the groups (mean difference –4.5, 95% CI –10.2 to 1.3, P=.13).
Conclusions
This trial could not show that the tested Web-based intervention was effective for reducing stress compared to usual care. The limited statistical power and the high dropout rate may have reduced the study’s ability to detect significant differences between the groups. Further randomized controlled trials are needed with larger populations to investigate the long-term outcome as well as the contents of usual primary care.
Trial Registration
German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00003067; http://drks-neu.uniklinik-freiburg.de/drks_web/navigate.do?=DRKS00003067 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6eXk0PXmO)
doi:10.2196/jmir.4246
PMCID: PMC4769360  PMID: 26872703
Web-based; randomized controlled trial; life stress; stress reduction
9.  To what extent are surgery and invasive procedures effective beyond a placebo response? A systematic review with meta-analysis of randomised, sham controlled trials 
BMJ Open  2015;5(12):e009655.
Objectives
To assess the quantity and quality of randomised, sham-controlled studies of surgery and invasive procedures and estimate the treatment-specific and non-specific effects of those procedures.
Design
Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Data sources
We searched PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, CENTRAL (Cochrane Library), PILOTS, PsycInfo, DoD Biomedical Research, clinicaltrials.gov, NLM catalog and NIH Grantee Publications Database from their inception through January 2015.
Study selection
We included randomised controlled trials of surgery and invasive procedures that penetrated the skin or an orifice and had a parallel sham procedure for comparison.
Data extraction and analysis
Three authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias. Studies reporting continuous outcomes were pooled and the standardised mean difference (SMD) with 95% CIs was calculated using a random effects model for difference between true and sham groups.
Results
55 studies (3574 patients) were identified meeting inclusion criteria; 39 provided sufficient data for inclusion in the main analysis (2902 patients). The overall SMD of the continuous primary outcome between treatment/sham-control groups was 0.34 (95% CI 0.20 to 0.49; p<0.00001; I2=67%). The SMD for surgery versus sham surgery was non-significant for pain-related conditions (n=15, SMD=0.13, p=0.08), marginally significant for studies on weight loss (n=10, SMD=0.52, p=0.05) and significant for gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) studies (n=5, SMD=0.65, p<0.001) and for other conditions (n=8, SMD=0.44, p=0.004). Mean improvement in sham groups relative to active treatment was larger in pain-related conditions (78%) and obesity (71%) than in GERD (57%) and other conditions (57%), and was smaller in classical-surgery trials (21%) than in endoscopic trials (73%) and those using percutaneous procedures (64%).
Conclusions
The non-specific effects of surgery and other invasive procedures are generally large. Particularly in the field of pain-related conditions, more evidence from randomised placebo-controlled trials is needed to avoid continuation of ineffective treatments.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009655
PMCID: PMC4679929  PMID: 26656986
SURGERY; COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE; INTERNAL MEDICINE
10.  Comparative effectiveness of psychological treatments for depressive disorders in primary care: network meta-analysis 
BMC Family Practice  2015;16:103.
Background
A variety of psychological interventions to treat depressive disorders have been developed and are used in primary care. In a systematic review, we compared the effectiveness of psychological treatments grouped by theoretical background, intensity of contact with the health care professional, and delivery mode for depressed patients in this setting.
Methods
Randomized trials comparing a psychological treatment with usual care, placebo, another psychological treatment, pharmacotherapy, or a combination treatment in adult depressed primary care patients were identified by database searches up to December 2013. We performed both conventional pairwise meta-analysis and network meta-analysis combining direct and indirect evidence. Outcome measures were response to treatment (primary outcome), remission of symptoms, post-treatment depression scores and study discontinuation.
Results
A total of 37 studies with 7,024 patients met the inclusion criteria. Among the psychological treatments investigated in at least 150 patients face-to-face cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT; OR 1.80; 95 % credible interval 1.35–2.39), face-to-face counselling and psychoeducation (1.65; 1.27–2.13), remote therapist lead CBT (1.87; 1.38–2.53), guided self-help CBT (1.68; 1.22–2.30) and no/minimal contact CBT (1.53; 1.07–2.17) were superior to usual care or placebo, but not face-to-face problem-solving therapy and face-to-face interpersonal therapy. There were no statistical differences between psychological treatments apart from face-to-face interpersonal psychotherapy being inferior to remote therapist-lead CBT (0.60; 0.37–0.95). Remote therapist-led (0.86; 0.21–3.67), guided self-help (0.93; 0.62–1.41) and no/minimal contact CBT (0.85; 0.54–1.36) had similar effects as face-to-face CBT.
Conclusions
The limited available evidence precludes a sufficiently reliable assessment of the comparative effectiveness of psychological treatments in depressed primary care patients. Findings suggest that psychological interventions with a cognitive behavioral approach are promising, and primarily indirect evidence indicates that it applies also when they are delivered with a reduced number of therapist contacts or remotely.
Systematic review registration: 01KG1012 at http://www.gesundheitsforschung-bmbf.de/de/2852.php
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12875-015-0314-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12875-015-0314-x
PMCID: PMC4545315  PMID: 26286590
11.  Echinacea for Preventing and Treating the Common Cold 
JAMA  2015;313(6):618-619.
doi:10.1001/jama.2014.17145
PMCID: PMC4367446  PMID: 25668266
12.  Metamizole-Associated Adverse Events: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0122918.
Background
Metamizole is used to treat pain in many parts of the world. Information on the safety profile of metamizole is scarce; no conclusive summary of the literature exists.
Objective
To determine whether metamizole is clinically safe compared to placebo and other analgesics.
Methods
We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and several clinical trial registries. We screened the reference lists of included trials and previous systematic reviews. We included randomized controlled trials that compared the effects of metamizole, administered to adults in any form and for any indication, to other analgesics or to placebo. Two authors extracted data regarding trial design and size, indications for pain medication, patient characteristics, treatment regimens, and methodological characteristics. Adverse events (AEs), serious adverse events (SAEs), and dropouts were assessed. We conducted separate meta-analyses for each metamizole comparator, using standard inverse-variance random effects meta-analysis to pool the estimates across trials, reported as risk ratios (RRs). We calculated the DerSimonian and Laird variance estimate T2 to measure heterogeneity between trials. The pre-specified primary end point was any AE during the trial period.
Results
Of the 696 potentially eligible trials, 79 trials including almost 4000 patients with short-term metamizole use of less than two weeks met our inclusion criteria. Fewer AEs were reported for metamizole compared to opioids, RR = 0.79 (confidence interval 0.79 to 0.96). We found no differences between metamizole and placebo, paracetamol and NSAIDs. Only a few SAEs were reported, with no difference between metamizole and other analgesics. No agranulocytosis or deaths were reported. Our results were limited by the mediocre overall quality of the reports.
Conclusion
For short-term use in the hospital setting, metamizole seems to be a safe choice when compared to other widely used analgesics. High-quality, adequately sized trials assessing the intermediate- and long-term safety of metamizole are needed.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122918
PMCID: PMC4405027  PMID: 25875821
13.  Acupuncture for chronic pain 
doi:10.1001/jama.2013.285478
PMCID: PMC4036643  PMID: 24595780
14.  Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold 
Background
Echinacea plant preparations (family Asteraceae) are widely used in Europe and North America for common colds. Most consumers and physicians are not aware that products available under the term Echinacea differ appreciably in their composition, mainly due to the use of variable plant material, extraction methods and the addition of other components.
Objectives
To assess whether there is evidence that Echinacea preparations are effective and safe compared to placebo in the prevention and treatment of the common cold.
Search methods
We searched CENTRAL 2013, Issue 5, MEDLINE (1946 to May week 5, 2013), EMBASE (1991 to June 2013), CINAHL (1981 to June 2013), AMED (1985 to February 2012), LILACS (1981 to June 2013), Web of Science (1955 to June 2013), CAMBASE (no time limits), the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research (1988 to September 2007), WHO ICTRP and clinicaltrials.gov (last searched 5 June 2013), screened references and asked experts in the field about published and unpublished studies.
Selection criteria
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing mono-preparations of Echinacea with placebo.
Data collection and analysis
At least two review authors independently assessed eligibility and trial quality and extracted data. The primary efficacy outcome was the number of individuals with at least one cold in prevention trials and the duration of colds in treatment trials. For all included trials the primary safety and acceptability outcome was the number of participants dropping out due to adverse events. We assessed trial quality using the Cochrane ’Risk of bias’ tool.
Main results
Twenty-four double-blind trials with 4631 participants including a total of 33 comparisons of Echinacea preparations and placebo met the inclusion criteria. A variety of different Echinacea preparations based on different species and parts of plant were used. Evidence from seven trials was available for preparations based on the aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea.
Ten trials were considered to have a low risk of bias, six to have an unclear risk of bias and eight to have a high risk of bias. Ten trials with 13 comparisons investigated prevention and 15 trials with 20 comparisons investigated treatment of colds (one trial addressed both prevention and treatment).
Due to the strong clinical heterogeneity of the studies we refrained from pooling for the main analysis. None of the 12 prevention comparisons reporting the number of patients with at least one cold episode found a statistically significant difference. However a post hoc pooling of their results, suggests a relative risk reduction of 10% to 20%. Of the seven treatment trials reporting data on the duration of colds, only one showed a significant effect of Echinacea over placebo. The number of patients dropping out or reporting adverse effects did not differ significantly between treatment and control groups in prevention and treatment trials. However, in prevention trials there was a trend towards a larger number of patients dropping out due to adverse events in the treatment groups.
Authors’ conclusions
Echinacea products have not here been shown to provide benefits for treating colds, although, it is possible there is a weak benefit from some Echinacea products: the results of individual prophylaxis trials consistently show positive (if non-significant) trends, although potential effects are of questionable clinical relevance.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000530.pub3
PMCID: PMC4068831  PMID: 24554461
*Echinacea; *Phytotherapy; Common Cold [*prevention & control; *therapy]; Plant Extracts [*therapeutic use]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Humans
15.  Effects of a Guided Web-Based Smoking Cessation Program With Telephone Counseling: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial 
Background
Preliminary findings suggest that Web-based interventions may be effective in achieving significant smoking cessation. To date, very few findings are available for primary care patients, and especially for the involvement of general practitioners.
Objective
Our goal was to examine the short-term effectiveness of a fully automated Web-based coaching program in combination with accompanied telephone counseling in smoking cessation in a primary care setting.
Methods
The study was an unblinded cluster-randomized trial with an observation period of 12 weeks. Individuals recruited by general practitioners randomized to the intervention group participated in a Web-based coaching program based on education, motivation, exercise guidance, daily short message service (SMS) reminding, weekly feedback through Internet, and active monitoring by general practitioners. All components of the program are fully automated. Participants in the control group received usual care and advice from their practitioner without the Web-based coaching program. The main outcome was the biochemically confirmed smoking status after 12 weeks.
Results
We recruited 168 participants (86 intervention group, 82 control group) into the study. For 51 participants from the intervention group and 70 participants from the control group, follow-up data were available both at baseline and 12 weeks. Very few patients (9.8%, 5/51) from the intervention group and from the control group (8.6%, 6/70) successfully managed smoking cessation (OR 0.86, 95% CI 0.25-3.0; P=.816). Similar results were found within the intent-to-treat analysis: 5.8% (5/86) of the intervention group and 7.3% (6/82) of the control group (OR 1.28, 95% CI 0.38-4.36; P=.694). The number of smoked cigarettes per day decreased on average by 9.3 in the intervention group and by 6.6 in the control group (2.7 mean difference; 95% CI -5.33 to -0.58; P=.045). After adjustment for the baseline value, age, gender, and height, this significance decreases (mean difference 2.2; 95% CI -4.7 to 0.3; P=.080).
Conclusions
This trial did not show that the tested Web-based intervention was effective for achieving smoking cessation compared to usual care. The limited statistical power and the high drop-out rate may have reduced the study’s ability to detect significant differences between the groups. Further randomized controlled trials are needed in larger populations and to investigate the long-term outcome.
Trial Registration
German Register for Clinical Trials, registration number DRKS00003067; http://drks-neu.uniklinik-freiburg.de/drks_web/navigate.do?navigationId=trial.HTML&TRIAL_ ID=DRKS00003067 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6Sff1YZpx).
doi:10.2196/jmir.3536
PMCID: PMC4211026  PMID: 25253539
smoking cessation; Web-based; randomized controlled trial; primary care
16.  Communicating and Dealing with Uncertainty in General Practice: The Association with Neuroticism 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102780.
Background
Diagnostic reasoning in primary care setting where presented problems and patients are mostly unselected appears as a complex process. The aim was to develop a questionnaire to describe how general practitioners (GPs) deal with uncertainty to gain more insight into the decisional process. The association of personality traits with medical decision making was investigated additionally.
Methods
Raw items were identified by literature research and focus group. Items were improved by interviewing ten GPs with thinking-aloud-method. A personal case vignette related to a complex and uncertainty situation was introduced. The final questionnaire was administered to 228 GPs in Germany. Factorial validity was calculated with explorative and confirmatory factor analysis. The results of the Communicating and Dealing with Uncertainty (CoDU) – questionnaire were compared with the scales of the ‘Physician Reaction to Uncertainty’ (PRU) questionnaire and with the personality traits which were determined with the Big Five Inventory (BFI-K).
Results
The items could be assigned to four scales with varying internal consistency, namely ‘communicating uncertainty’ (Cronbach alpha 0.79), ‘diagnostic action’ (0.60), ‘intuition’ (0.39) and ‘extended social anamnesis’ (0.69). Neuroticism was positively associated with all PRU scales ‘anxiety due to uncertainty’ (Pearson correlation 0.487), ‘concerns about bad outcomes’ (0.488), ‘reluctance to disclose uncertainty to patients’ (0.287), ‘reluctance to disclose mistakes to physicians’ (0.212) and negatively associated with the CoDU scale ‘communicating uncertainty’ (−0.242) (p<0.01 for all). ‘Extraversion’ (0.146; p<0.05), ‘agreeableness’ (0.145, p<0.05), ‘conscientiousness’ (0.168, p<0.05) and ‘openness to experience’ (0.186, p<0.01) were significantly positively associated with ‘communicating uncertainty’. ‘Extraversion’ (0.162), ‘consciousness’ (0.158) and ‘openness to experience’ (0.155) were associated with ‘extended social anamnesis’ (p<0.05).
Conclusion
The questionnaire allowed describing the diagnostic decision making process of general practitioners in complex situations. Personality traits are associated with diagnostic reasoning and communication with patients, which might be important for medical education and quality improvement purposes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102780
PMCID: PMC4100927  PMID: 25029276
17.  A randomised multicentre trial of acupuncture in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis – trial intervention including physician and treatment characteristics 
Background
In a large randomised trial in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR), acupuncture was superior compared to sham acupuncture and rescue medication. The aim of this paper is to describe the characteristics of the trial’s participating physicians and to describe the trial intervention in accordance with the STRICTA (Standards for Reporting Interventions in Controlled Trials of Acupuncture) guidelines, to make details of the trial intervention more transparent to researchers and physicians.
Methods
ACUSAR (ACUpuncture in Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis) was a three-armed, randomised, controlled multicentre trial. 422 SAR patients were randomised to semi-standardised acupuncture plus rescue medication (RM, cetirizine), sham acupuncture plus RM or RM alone. We sent a questionnaire to trial physicians in order to evaluate their characteristics regarding their education about and experience in providing acupuncture. During the trial, acupuncturists were asked to diagnose all of their patients according to Chinese Medicine (CM) as a basis for the semi-standardised, individualized intervention in the acupuncture group. Every acupuncture point used in this trial had to be documented after each session
Results
Acupuncture was administered in outpatient clinics by 46 (mean age 47 ± 10 years; 24 female/ 22 male) conventionally-trained medical doctors (67% with postgraduate specialization such as internal or family medicine) with additional extensive acupuncture training (median 500 hours (1st quartile 350, 3rd quartile 1000 hours with 73% presenting a B-diploma in acupuncture training (350 hours)) and experience (mean 14 years in practice). The most reported traditional CM diagnosis was ‘wind-cold invading the lung’ (37%) and ‘wind-heat invading the lung’ (37%), followed by ‘lung and spleen qi deficiency’ (9%). The total number of needles used was higher in the acupuncture group compared to the sham acupuncture group (15.7 ± 2.5 vs. 10.0 ± 1.6).
Conclusions
The trial interventions were provided by well educated and experienced acupuncturists. The different number of needles in both intervention groups could be possibly a reason for the better clinical effect in SAR patients. For future trials it might be more appropriate to ensure that acupuncture and sham acupuncture groups should each be treated by a similar number of needles.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00610584.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-128
PMCID: PMC3983860  PMID: 24708643
Acupuncture; Randomised controlled trial; Seasonal allergic rhinitis; Trial intervention; Sham acupuncture
18.  Influence of Control Group on Effect Size in Trials of Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: A Secondary Analysis of an Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93739.
Background
In a recent individual patient data meta-analysis, acupuncture was found to be superior to both sham and non-sham controls in patients with chronic pain. In this paper we identify variations in types of sham and non-sham controls used and analyze their impact on the effect size of acupuncture.
Methods
Based on literature searches of acupuncture trials involving patients with headache and migraine, osteoarthritis, and back, neck and shoulder pain, 29 trials met inclusion criteria, 20 involving sham controls (n = 5,230) and 18 non-sham controls (n = 14,597). For sham controls, we analysed non-needle sham, penetrating sham needles and non-penetrating sham needles. For non-sham controls, we analysed non-specified routine care and protocol-guided care. Using meta-regression we explored impact of choice of control on effect of acupuncture.
Findings
Acupuncture was significantly superior to all categories of control group. For trials that used penetrating needles for sham control, acupuncture had smaller effect sizes than for trials with non-penetrating sham or sham control without needles. The difference in effect size was −0.45 (95% C.I. −0.78, −0.12; p = 0.007), or −0.19 (95% C.I. −0.39, 0.01; p = 0.058) after exclusion of outlying studies showing very large effects of acupuncture. In trials with non-sham controls, larger effect sizes associated with acupuncture vs. non-specified routine care than vs. protocol-guided care. Although the difference in effect size was large (0.26), it was not significant with a wide confidence interval (95% C.I. −0.05, 0.57, p = 0.1).
Conclusion
Acupuncture is significantly superior to control irrespective of the subtype of control. While the choice of control should be driven by the study question, our findings can help inform study design in acupuncture, particularly with respect to sample size. Penetrating needles appear to have important physiologic activity. We recommend that this type of sham be avoided.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093739
PMCID: PMC3976298  PMID: 24705624
19.  The Use of Placebo and Non-Specific Therapies and Their Relation to Basic Professional Attitudes and the Use of Complementary Therapies among German Physicians – A Cross-Sectional Survey 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e92938.
We aimed to investigate the use of placebos (e.g. saline injections) and non-specific treatments (e.g. vitamin supplements in individuals without a relevant deficiency) among physicians working in private practices in Germany, and how such use is associated with the belief in and the use of complementary and alternative treatments, and basic professional attitudes. A four-page questionnaire was sent to nationwide random samples of general practitioners (GP), internists and orthopaedists working in private practices. The response rate was 46% (935 of 2018). 24% of GPs, 44% of internists and 57% of orthopaedists had neither used pure placebos nor non-specific therapies in the previous 12 months. 11% percent of GPs, 12% of internists and 7% of orthopaedists had exclusively used pure placebos; 30%, 33% and 26%, respectively, had exclusively used non-specific therapies; 35%, 12% and 9% had used both. Age, sex and agreement to the statement that physicians should harness placebo effects were not significantly associated with any pattern of use. Exclusive use of pure placebos was associated with being a GP, being an internist, and having unorthodox professional views. In addition to these three factors, a lower use of CAM therapies and a wish for having more time was associated with the exclusive use of non-specific therapies. Among physicians using both pure placebo and non-specific therapies, heterodox views were also somewhat more pronounced. However, associations were particularly strong for being a GP (Odds ratio 11.6 (95%CI 6.41; 21.3)) and having orthodox views (Odds ratio 0.10 (95%CI 0.06; 0.18)) among this group. In conclusion, the use of placebos and non-specific treatments varies strongly between medical specialties and is associated with basic professional attitudes. The findings support the view that the use of placebos and, in particular, of non-specific therapies is primarily a coping behaviour for difficult and uncertain situations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092938
PMCID: PMC3973570  PMID: 24695272
20.  High prevalence but limited evidence in complementary and alternative medicine: guidelines for future research 
The use of complementary and alternative Medicine (CAM) has increased over the past two decades in Europe. Nonetheless, research investigating the evidence to support its use remains limited. The CAMbrella project funded by the European Commission aimed to develop a strategic research agenda starting by systematically evaluating the state of CAM in the EU. CAMbrella involved 9 work packages covering issues such as the definition of CAM; its legal status, provision and use in the EU; and a synthesis of international research perspectives. Based on the work package reports, we developed a strategic and methodologically robust research roadmap based on expert workshops, a systematic Delphi-based process and a final consensus conference. The CAMbrella project suggests six core areas for research to examine the potential contribution of CAM to the health care challenges faced by the EU. These areas include evaluating the prevalence of CAM use in Europe; the EU cititzens’ needs and attitudes regarding CAM; the safety of CAM; the comparative effectiveness of CAM; the effects of meaning and context on CAM outcomes; and different models for integrating CAM into existing health care systems. CAM research should use methods generally accepted in the evaluation of health services, including comparative effectiveness studies and mixed-methods designs. A research strategy is urgently needed, ideally led by a European CAM coordinating research office dedicated to fostering systematic communication between EU governments, the public, charitable and industry funders, researchers and other stakeholders. A European Centre for CAM should also be established to monitor and further a coordinated research strategy with sufficient funds to commission and promote high quality, independent research focusing on the public’s health needs and pan-European collaboration. There is a disparity between highly prevalent use of CAM in Europe and solid knowledge about it. A strategic approach on CAM research should be established to investigate the identified gaps of knowledge and to address upcoming health care challenges.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-46
PMCID: PMC3931324  PMID: 24499316
Complementary and alternative medicine; Research strategy; Randomized clinical trials; Safety; Qualitative studies; Comparative effectiveness research
21.  Can near-peer medical students effectively teach a new curriculum in physical examination? 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:165.
Background
Students in German medical schools frequently complain that the subject ‘clinical examination’ is not taught in a satisfying manner due to time constraints and lack of personnel resources. While the effectiveness and efficiency of practice-oriented teaching in small groups using near-peer teaching has been shown, it is rarely used in German medical schools. We investigated whether adding a new near-peer teaching course developed with student input plus patient examination under supervision in small groups improves basic clinical examination skills in third year medical students compared to a traditional clinical examination course alone.
Methods
Third year medical students registered for the mandatory curricular clinical examination course at the medical faculty of the Technische Universität München were invited to participate in a randomised trial with blinded outcome assessment. Students were randomised to the control group participating in the established curricular physical examination course or to the intervention group, which received additional near-peer teaching for the same content. The learning success was verified by a voluntary objective structured clinical examination (OSCE).
Results
A total of 84 students were randomised and 53 (63%) participated in the final OSCE. Students in the control group scored a median of 57% (25th percentile 47%, 75th percentile 61%) of the maximum possible total points of the OSCE compared to 77% (73%, 80%; p < 0.001) for students in the intervention group. Only two students in the intervention group received a lower score than the best student in the control group.
Conclusion
Adding a near-peer teaching course to the routine course significantly improved the clinical examination skills of medical students in an efficient manner in the context of a resource-constrained setting.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-165
PMCID: PMC3874636  PMID: 24325639
22.  Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis 
Archives of internal medicine  2012;172(19):1444-1453.
Background
Although acupuncture is widely used for chronic pain, there remains considerable controversy as to its value. We aimed to determine the effect size of acupuncture for four chronic pain conditions: back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain.
Methods
We conducted a systematic review to identify randomized trials of acupuncture for chronic pain where allocation concealment was determined unambiguously to be adequate. Individual patient data meta-analyses were conducted using data from 29 of 31 eligible trials, with a total of 17,922 patients analyzed.
Results
In the primary analysis including all eligible trials, acupuncture was superior to both sham and no acupuncture control for each pain condition (all p<0.001). After exclusion of an outlying set of trials that strongly favored acupuncture, the effect sizes were similar across pain conditions. Patients receiving acupuncture had less pain, with scores 0.23 (95% C.I. 0.13, 0.33), 0.16 (95% C.I. 0.07, 0.25) and 0.15 (95% C.I. 0.07, 0.24) standard deviations lower than sham controls for back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic headache respectively; the effect sizes in comparison to no acupuncture controls were 0.55 (95% C.I. 0.51, 0.58), 0.57 (95% C.I. 0.50, 0.64) and 0.42 (95% C.I. 0.37, 0.46). These results were robust to a variety of sensitivity analyses, including those related to publication bias.
Conclusions
Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option. Significant differences between true and sham acupuncture indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo. However, these differences are relatively modest, suggesting that factors in addition to the specific effects of needling are important contributors to the therapeutic effects of acupuncture.
doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3654
PMCID: PMC3658605  PMID: 22965186
23.  Homeopathy for Depression: A Randomized, Partially Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Four-Armed Study (DEP-HOM) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74537.
Background
The specific clinical benefit of the homeopathic consultation and of homeopathic remedies in patients with depression has not yet been investigated.
Aims
To investigate the 1) specific effect of individualized homeopathic Q-potencies compared to placebo and 2) the effect of an extensive homeopathic case taking (case history I) compared to a shorter, rather conventional one (case history II) in the treatment of acute major depression (moderate episode) after six weeks.
Methods
A randomized, partially double-blind, placebo-controlled, four-armed trial using a 2×2 factorial design with a six-week study duration per patient was performed.
Results
A total of 44 from 228 planned patients were randomized (2∶1∶2∶1 randomization: 16 homeopathic Q-potencies/case history I, 7 placebo/case history I, 14 homeopathic Q-potencies/case history II, 7 placebo/case history II). Because of recruitment problems, the study was terminated prior to full recruitment, and was underpowered for the preplanned confirmatory hypothesis testing. Exploratory data analyses showed heterogeneous and inconclusive results with large variance in the sample. The mean difference for the Hamilton-D after 6 weeks was 2.0 (95%CI −1.2;5.2) for Q-potencies vs. placebo and −3.1 (−5.9;−0.2) for case history I vs. case history II. Overall, no consistent or clinically relevant results across all outcomes between homeopathic Q-potencies versus placebo and homeopathic versus conventional case taking were observed. The frequency of adverse events was comparable for all groups.
Conclusions
Although our results are inconclusive, given that recruitment into this trial was very difficult and we had to terminate early, we cannot recommend undertaking a further trial addressing this question in a similar setting.
Prof. Dr. Claudia Witt had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Trial registration
clinicaltrials.gov identifier NCT01178255.
Protocol publication: http://www.trialsjournal.com/content/12/1/43
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074537
PMCID: PMC3781106  PMID: 24086352
24.  Kidney function and clinical recommendations of drug dose adjustment in geriatric patients 
BMC Geriatrics  2013;13:92.
Background
In elderly patients chronic kidney disease often limits drug prescription. As several equations for quick assessment of kidney function by estimating glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and several different clinical recommendations for drug dose adjustment in renal failure are published, choosing the correct approach for drug dosage is difficult for the practitioner. The aims of our study were to quantify the agreement between eGFR-equations grouped by creatinine-based or cystatin C-based and within the groups of creatinine and cystatin C-based equations and to investigate whether use of various literature and online references results in different recommendations for drug dose adjustment in renal disease in very elderly primary care patients.
Methods
We included 108 primary care patients aged 80 years and older from 11 family practices into a cross-sectional study. GFR was estimated using two serum creatinine-based equations (Cockroft-Gault, MDRD) and three serum cystatin C-based equations (Grubb, Hoek, Perkins). Concordance between different equations was quantified using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs). Essential changes in drug doses or discontinuation of medication were documented and compared in terms of estimated renal function as a consequence of the different eGFR-equations using five references commonly used in the US, Great Britain and Germany.
Results
In general, creatinine-based equations resulted in lower eGFR-estimation and in higher necessity of drug dose adjustment than cystatin C-based equations. Concordance was high between creatinine-based equations alone (ICCs 0.87) and between cystatin C-based equations alone (ICCs 0.90 to 0.96), and moderate between creatinine-based equations and cystatin C-based equations (ICCs 0.54 to 0.76). When comparing the five different references consulted to identify necessary drug dose adjustments we found that the numbers of drugs that necessitate dose adjustment in the case of renal impairment differed considerably. The mean number of recommended changes in drug dosage ranged between 1.9 and 2.5 per patient depending on the chosen literature reference.
Conclusions
Our data suggest that the choice of the literature source might have even greater impact on drug management than the choice of the equation used to estimate GFR alone. Efforts should be deployed to standardize methods for estimating kidney function in geriatric patients and literature recommendations on drug dose adjustment in renal failure.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-13-92
PMCID: PMC3850264  PMID: 24020893
Estimated kidney function; Aged 80 years and older; Drug dose adjustment; Primary care; Literature references
25.  Effects of a general practice guided web-based weight reduction program - results of a cluster-randomized controlled trial 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:76.
Background
Preliminary findings suggest that web-based interventions may be effective in achieving significant weight loss and weight loss maintenance. To date only few findings within primary care patients and especially the involvement of general practitioners are available. The aim of this trial was to examine the short-term effectiveness of a web-based coaching program in combination with an accompanied telephone counselling regarding weight reduction in a primary care setting.
Methods
The study was a cluster-randomized trial with an observation period of 12 weeks. Individuals recruited by general practitioners randomized to the intervention group participated in a web-based coaching program based on education, motivation, exercise guidance, daily SMS reminding, weekly feedback through internet and active monitoring by general practitioners. Participants in the control group received usual care and advice from their practitioner without the web-based coaching program. The main outcome was weight change between admission and after 12 weeks.
Results
186 participants (109 intervention group, 77 control group) were recruited into study. For 76 participants from the intervention group and 72 participants from the control group weight measurements were available both at baseline and 12 weeks. Weight decreased on average by 4.2 kg in the intervention group and 1.7 kg in the control group (mean group difference 2.5 kg; 95%CI 1,1; 3,8; p < 0.001). Reductions for waist circumference and BMI were also significantly larger within intervention.
Conclusion
Findings of the present trial suggest that the tested web-based coaching program for weight loss is effective in short-term. Further RCT’s are desirable in order to confirm present findings in larger populations and to investigate long-term outcomes.
Trial registration
German Register for Clinical Trials: DRKS00003067
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-76
PMCID: PMC3680299  PMID: 23981507
Overweight; Obesity; Weight loss; Web-based; Randomized controlled trial

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