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Acupuncture Benefit Seen in Pregnancy

Rating

3 Star

Acupuncture Benefit Seen in Pregnancy

Our Review Summary

This story adequately describes the current study and provides the appropriate caveats to interpreting its results.

The story could have been improved in the following ways:

1. By providing more detail on the specially-designed type of acupuncture used in one arm of the study. Where could a woman seeking this treatment find it? How many practitioners are trained on this regimen?

2. By mentioning any harms of the treatment. While acupuncture is very safe, the study did report some pain and bleeding.

3. By seeking the perspective of an independent expert and not simply quoting the lead author of the study.

4. By describing the costs or insurance coverage for acupuncture. Because insurance coverage for acupuncture varies widely, out-of-pocket expenses for the 12-session regimen could be a substantial barrier to many women seeking treatment.

 

Why This Matters

Interviewing only the lead author may provide an incomplete perspective of the significance of the findings.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The study makes no mention of costs or insurance coverage. Because insurance coverage for acupuncture varies widely, out-of-pocket expenses for the 12-session regimen could be a substantial barrier to many women getting the treatment.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

We note a couple of flaws: 

  • The story didn’t give the absolute number of women responding to treatments.  Instead of 63% or 44%, why not tell us how many out of how many? We can assume, but don’t know from the story, how many women were assigned to each arm of the study.
  • More importantly, it didn’t define what "response" to treatment meant in the study. The study defined "response" to treatment as a greater than 50% reduction in depressive symptoms, which may or may not correlate with women’s self-report of "improvement."

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Acupuncture is very safe, however there are some potential undesirable side effects that were reported in the study and that should have been mentioned.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

The story adequately describes the design of the current study and provides appropriate caveats, such as the small sample size, the fact that this is a single study that has not yet been replicated and the lack of comparison with proven treatments such as psychotherapy and antidepressant medications.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story doesn’t exaggerate the seriousness or prevalence of partum depression.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The story quotes only the lead author on the study. The story should have quoted additional, independent experts who could have provided much needed perspective on the importance of – or limitations of – these new findings.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story mentions other established, safe and effective treatments for depression such as psychotherapy and antidepressant medications.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

While acupuncture is widely available, the story doesn’t clearly point out that the regimen used in the study was specially developed for this study. Where could a woman seeking this treatment find it? How many practitioners are trained on this regimen?

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story explains that the study is "the largest to date examining the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat depression in pregnant women."  However, the story could have mentioned that the regimen used in the study was a novel regimen specially-designed for the study.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

There is no way to know if the story relied on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 4 of 9 Satisfactory

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