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Acupuncture shows promise for depression in pregnancy


3 Star

Acupuncture shows promise for depression in pregnancy

Our Review Summary

The story met many of our criteria.  Room for improvement: a discussion of cost and interviews with sources not affiliated with the trial.


Why This Matters

Alerting the reader to study limitations is just as important as reporting the results. In this case, a quote from the lead researcher tells us much of what we need to know: “I do not think we can say that our study proves that acupuncture is effective for depression during pregnancy.”


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

No mention of the cost of acupuncture, which is relevant, especially since acupuncture is not always covered by insurance

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

Not Satisfactory

The story only reported benefits in percentages in each group that "responded to therapy," but later the story provided the actual numbers of women assigned to the three study groups – so it’s possible for readers to do the math.  Nonetheless, why make them do the math?  Why not just give the absolute numbers of how many in each group responded?

One other thing the story did not do is to explain how "responded to therapy" was defined – a detail some other stories did provide. 

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

The story pointed out that 21 patients in the trial reported pain at the site of needling – something not mentioned in some of the other stories we’ve seen. 

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


Story did a nice job describing the study methods, including the acupuncture regimen. Additionally, the story alerts the reader upfront that this is a small study and the results are not guaranteed. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


This story included data indicating that 3-5% of pregnant women are diagnosed with depression.

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

Not Satisfactory

No independent experts were quoted in this story.  

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

This story indicated that acupuncture is comparable to psychotherapy, another non-drug option. 

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

Not Satisfactory

The story didn’t address whether any acupuncture therapists are trained in the "depression-specific" acunpuncture methods that were used in one arm of this study. 

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The story described the use of acupuncture for treating patients with chronic pain, but it did not mention previous studies that evaluated its use in depression.

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

This story did not rely largely on the press release. 

Total Score: 5 of 10 Satisfactory


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