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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, O'Connell 2009.

Interpretive bias in acupuncture research? A case study

updated


Tags: treatment, back pain, acupuncture, controversy, scientific medicine, pain problems, spine, mind, debunkery, energy work

PainSci summary of O'Connell 2009?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

This is a discussion of an article about the use of acupuncture for chronic low-back pain. “The authors suggest that interpretive bias has affected reporting, leading to questionable conclusions and advocacy in favor of this form of care that may exceed the evidence. They also suggest that a lack of understanding of research into the placebo effect may have contributed to confusion in the interpretation of these trials.”

For a good related example, see author Neil O’Connell’s criticism of Molsberger et al, a paper that shows a “positive” result from acupuncture but has an absurdly glaring flaw.

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Acupuncture is one of the most widely used and broadly researched of the complementary and alternative therapies, but high-quality trials generally show no benefit over sham acupuncture. Many would view this result as evidence of ineffectiveness for this intervention. This discussion article focuses on the report of a large multicenter randomized controlled trial of acupuncture for chronic low-back pain (CLBP) in the lay and academic press, the ensuing discussion, and its impact on both clinical practice and service provision. The authors suggest that interpretive bias has affected reporting, leading to questionable conclusions and advocacy in favor of this form of care that may exceed the evidence. They also suggest that a lack of understanding of research into the placebo effect may have contributed to confusion in the interpretation of these trials.

related content

One article on PainScience.com cites O'Connell 2009 as a source:

This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: