Acupuncture improved symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome that were statistically superior to standard of care through 1 year, but ceased to be significantly superior at 2 years, according to the results of a randomized controlled trial.
“This trial evidence shows that acupuncture reduces the symptoms of IBS, and not just the colonic symptoms of abdominal pain — constipation and diarrhea — but also the non-colonic symptoms such as tiredness,” Hugh MacPherson, PhD, professor of acupuncture research in the department of health sciences at University of York, U.K., told Healio Gastroenterology. “These benefits were also shown to continue over time such that they were still statistically significant at 12 months follow-up.”
However, “we did not observe a statistically significant difference in IBS symptom scores between the two groups at 24 months,” he and colleagues wrote.
The investigators randomly assigned primary care patients diagnosed with IBS for an average duration of 13 years (mean age, 43 years; 19% men) to undergo up to 10 weekly acupuncture sessions in addition to standard of care (n = 116) or standard of care alone (n = 117).
They previously reported that acupuncture was associated with symptom relief at 3 months, and the improvements were generally maintained through 1 year. In this follow-up report, they extended the study to 24 months follow-up, for which 61% of participants provided complete data.
At 2 years, the overall response rate was 61%, and the adjusted difference in average IBS symptom severity scores was –18.28 (95% CI, –40.95 to 4.4), which favored acupuncture but not significantly.
Conversely, at 3 months, the adjusted difference was –27.27 (95% CI, –47.69 to –6.86), at 6 months it was –23.69 (95% CI, –45.17 to –2.21), at 9 months it was –24.09 (95% CI, –45.59 to –2.59) and at 1 year it was –23.06 (95% CI, –44.52 to –1.59), which were all statistically significant differences in favor of acupuncture.
“The lack of a statistically significant difference at 24 months may be associated, at least in part, with the progressive improvement observed within the usual care group, combined with the increased loss to follow-up over time,” MacPherson and colleagues concluded. – by Adam Leitenberger
Disclosures: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.