Quality acupuncture influences the outcomes of clinical research, and issues associated with effective administration of acupuncture in randomized controlled trials need to be addressed when appraising studies.
The study objective was to achieve consensus on domains and items for inclusion in a rating scale to assess quality acupuncture administered in clinical research.
Study design and subjects
An active group of Australian acupuncture researchers initially identified a pool of items assessing quality. The Delphi consensus process was then used to select and reduce the number of items, and an additional expert panel of 42 researchers were invited to participate. Participants initially ranked items along a five-point scale for the first Delphi round, and indicated an agree or disagree response during the second round. For an item to be retained into the second round, an item had to attain greater than 80% agreement that the item described a dimension of quality acupuncture and related study design.
Thirty-two (32) experts agreed to participate in the study. After two rounds of the Delphi process, consensus was reached on 14 domains and 26 items relating to quality acupuncture. Domains, items, and minimum standards related to study design; rationale of the intervention; criteria relating to needling stimulation either manual or electrostimulation; duration and frequency of treatment; and practitioner training.
Items for inclusion in an instrument to assess quality acupuncture in clinical research were identified. Further development of the instrument including relative weighting of items and reliability testing is under way.