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1.  Randomised controlled study in the primary healthcare sector to investigate the effectiveness and safety of auriculotherapy for the treatment of uncomplicated chronic rachialgia: a study protocol 
Background
Uncomplicated chronic rachialgia is a highly prevalent complaint, and one for which therapeutic results are contradictory. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of treatment with auriculopressure, in the primary healthcare sector, carried out by trained healthcare professionals via a 30-hour course.
Methods/Design
The design consists of a multi-centre randomized controlled trial, with placebo, with two parallel groups, and including an economic evaluation. Patients with chronic uncomplicated rachialgia, whose GP is considering referral for auriculopressure sensory stimulation, are eligible for inclusion. Sampling will be by consecutive selection, and randomised allocation to one of the two study arms will be determined using a centralised method, following a 1:1 plan (true auriculopressure; placebo auriculopressure). The implants (true and placebo) will be replaced once weekly, and the treatment will have a duration of 8 weeks. The primary outcome measure will be the change in pain intensity, measured on a visual analogue scale (VAS) of 100 mm, at 9 weeks after beginning the treatment. A follow up study will be performed at 6 months after beginning treatment. An assessment will also be made of the changes measured in the Spanish version of the McGill Pain Questionnaire, of the changes in the Lattinen test, and of the changes in quality of life (SF-12). Also planned is an analysis of cost-effectiveness and also, if necessary, a cost-benefit analysis.
Discussion
This study will contribute to developing evidence on the use of auriculotherapy using Semen vaccariae [wang bu liu xing] for the treatment of uncomplicated chronic rachialgia.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN01897462.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-36
PMCID: PMC2481242  PMID: 18601750
2.  Effectiveness of acupuncture, special dressings and simple, low-adherence dressings for healing venous leg ulcers in primary healthcare: study protocol for a cluster-randomized open-labeled trial 
Background
Venous leg ulcers constitute a chronic recurring complaint that affects 1.0–1.3% of the adult population at some time in life, and which corresponds to approximately 75% of all chronic ulcers of the leg. Multilayer compression bandaging is, at present, the only treatment that has been proved to be effective in treating this type of ulcer. There is no consensus, however, about the dressings that may be applied, beneath the compression, to promote the healing of this type of ulcer, as there does not seem to be any added benefit from using special dressings rather than simple, low-adherence ones. As well as analgesia, acupuncture provokes peripheral vasodilation, in skin and muscles – which has been demonstrated both experimentally and in clinical practice – probably due to the axon reflex, among other mechanisms. The aim of the present study is to measure the effectiveness and cost of compression treatment for venous leg ulcers combined with special dressings, in comparison with low-adherence ones and acupuncture.
Methods/design
Cluster-randomized open-labeled trial, at 15 primary healthcare clinics in the Sevilla-Sur Healthcare District, with a control group treated with compression bandaging and low-adherence dressings; the experiment will consist, on the one hand, of the compression treatment applied in combination with special dressings (Treatment 1), and on the other, the compression treatment applied in association with low-adherence dressings, together with acupuncture (Treatment 2).
Discussion
The results will be measured and recorded in terms of the median time elapsed until complete healing of the ulcer, and the rate of complete healing at 3 months after beginning the treatment. An economic analysis will also be made.
This study, carried out in the context of real clinical practice, will provide information for decision-taking concerning the effectiveness of special dressings. Moreover, for the first time a high-quality study will evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture in the process of healing venous leg ulcers.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN26438275.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-29
PMCID: PMC2432047  PMID: 18547419
3.  Correcting non cephalic presentation with moxibustion: study protocol for a multi-centre randomised controlled trial in general practice 
Background
Non cephalic presentation in childbirth involves various risks to both the mother and the foetus. The incidence in Spain is 3.8% of all full-term pregnancies. The most common technique used to end the gestation in cases of non cephalic presentation is that of caesarian section, and although it provokes a lower rate of morbi-mortality than does vaginal delivery in such situations, there remains the possibility of traumatic injury to the foetal head and neck, while maternal morbidity is also increased. The application of heat (moxibustion) to an acupuncture point, in order to correct non cephalic presentation, has been practised in China since ancient times, but as yet there is insufficient evidence of its real effectiveness.
Methods/Design
The experimental design consists of a multi-centre randomised controlled trial with three parallel arms, used to compare real moxibustion, sham moxibustion and the natural course of events, among pregnant women with a non cephalic presentation and a gestational duration of 33–35 weeks (estimated by echography). The participants in the trial will be blinded to both interventions. The results obtained will be analyzed by professionals, blinded with respect to the allocation to the different types of intervention. In addition, we intend to carry out a economic analysis.
Discussion
This trial will contribute to the development of evidence concerning moxibustion in the correction of non cephalic presentations. The primary outcome variable is the proportion of cephalic presentations at term. As secondary outcomes, we will evaluate the proportion of cephalic presentations at week 38 of gestation, determined by echography, together with the safety of the technique, the specificity of moxibustion and the control of the blinding process.
This study has been funded by the Health Ministry of the Andalusian Regional Government.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN10634508.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-22
PMCID: PMC2412837  PMID: 18495031
4.  Study protocol for a pragmatic randomised controlled trial in general practice investigating the effectiveness of acupuncture against migraine 
Background
Migraine is a chronic neurologic disease that can severely affect the patient's quality of life. Although in recent years many randomised studies have been carried out to investigate the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for migraine, it remains a controversial issue. Our aim is to determine whether acupuncture, applied under real conditions of clinical practice in the area of primary healthcare, is more effective than conventional treatment.
Methods/Design
The design consists of a pragmatic multi-centre, three-armed randomised controlled trial, complemented with an economic evaluation of the results achieved, comparing the effectiveness of verum acupuncture with sham acupuncture, and with a control group receiving normal care only.
Patients eligible for inclusion will be those presenting in general practice with migraine and for whom their General Practitioner (GP) is considering referral for acupuncture. Sampling will be by consecutive selection, and by randomised allocation to the three branches of the study, in a centralised way following a 1:1:1 distribution (verum acupuncture; sham acupuncture; conventional treatment). Secondly, one patient in three will be randomly selected from each of the acupuncture (verum or sham) groups for a brain perfusion study (by single photon emission tomography). The treatment with verum acupuncture will consist of 8 treatment sessions, once a week, at points selected individually by the acupuncturist. The sham acupuncture group will receive 8 sessions, one per week, with treatment being applied at non-acupuncture points in the dorsal and lumbar regions, using the minimal puncture technique. The control group will be given conventional treatment, as will the other two groups.
Discussion
This trial will contribute to available evidence on acupuncture for the treatment of migraine. The primary endpoint is the difference in the number of days with migraine among the three groups, between the baseline period (the 4 weeks prior to the start of treatment) and the period from weeks 9 to 12. As a secondary aspect, we shall record the index of laterality and the percentage of change in the mean count per pixel in each region of interest measured by the brain perfusion tomography, performed on a subsample of the patients within the real and sham acupuncture groups.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN98703707.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-12
PMCID: PMC2377233  PMID: 18410686
5.  Efficacy and safety of acupuncture for the treatment of non-specific acute low back pain: a randomised controlled multicentre trial protocol [ISRCTN65814467] 
Background
Low back pain and its associated incapacitating effects constitute an important healthcare and socioeconomic problem, as well as being one of the main causes of disability among adults of working age. The prevalence of non-specific low back pain is very high among the general population, and 60–70% of adults are believed to have suffered this problem at some time. Nevertheless, few randomised clinical trials have been made of the efficacy and efficiency of acupuncture with respect to acute low back pain. The present study is intended to assess the efficacy of acupuncture for acute low back pain in terms of the improvement reported on the Roland Morris Questionnaire (RMQ) on low back pain incapacity, to estimate the specific and non-specific effects produced by the technique, and to carry out a cost-effectiveness analysis.
Methods/Design
Randomised four-branch controlled multicentre prospective study made to compare semi-standardised real acupuncture, sham acupuncture (acupuncture at non-specific points), placebo acupuncture and conventional treatment. The patients are blinded to the real, sham and placebo acupuncture treatments. Patients in the sample present symptoms of non specific acute low back pain, with a case history of 2 weeks or less, and will be selected from working-age patients, whether in paid employment or not, referred by General Practitioners from Primary Healthcare Clinics to the four clinics participating in this study.
In order to assess the primary and secondary result measures, the patients will be requested to fill in a questionnaire before the randomisation and again at 3, 12 and 48 weeks after starting the treatment. The primary result measure will be the clinical relevant improvement (CRI) at 3 weeks after randomisation. We define CRI as a reduction of 35% or more in the RMQ results.
Discussion
This study is intended to obtain further evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture on acute low back pain and to isolate the specific and non-specific effects of the treatment.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-14
PMCID: PMC1468427  PMID: 16630342

Results 1-5 (5)