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Table 1 Generalities and patient baseline of the included studies

From: Acupuncture in chronic aspecific low back pain: a Bayesian network meta-analysis

Author, year Journal Treatment Type of protocol Patients (n) Follow-up (months) Mean age Women (%) Mean BMI
Brinkhaus et al. [15] Arch Intern Med Individualized 12 sessions of 30 min over 8 weeks (2 sessions in each of the first 4 weeks, followed by 1 session per week in the remaining 4 weeks) 147 13 59.1 64 26.7
Sham 75 58.2 75 26.2
Control Patients in the waiting list group did not receive acupuncture treatment for 8 weeks after randomization 79 58.9 68 26.9
Camilotti et al. [16] Fisioter. Mov Physiotherapy/ Aquatic Therapy Twice a week 15   61.7   27.8
Auricular/scalp/standardized 15 57.3   27.6
Control   14 61.2   28.7
Ceccherelli et al. [17] The Clinical Journal of Pain Standardized 8 sessions for 20 min; the first four sessions were carried out in 2 weeks, whereas the remaining four sessions were carried out once per week 21 3 41.7 24  
Individualized 21 41.6 33  
Cherkin et al. [18] Arch Intern Med Individualized Up to 10 massages or acupuncture treatments over 10 weeks were permitted 94 12 45.3 52  
Control 78 45.7 69  
Control   90 43.8 56  
Cherkin et al. [19] Arch Intern Med Individualized 2 treatments weekly for 3 weeks; then once weekly for 4 weeks 157 13 47.0 68  
Standardized 158 49.0 56  
Sham 162 47.0 60  
Usual care Patients received no study-related care; just the care, if any, they and their physicians chose (mostly medications, primary care, and physical therapy visits) 161 46.0 64  
Cho et al. [20] Spine Individualized 12 acupuncture sessions
(approximately 2 times a week for 6 weeks)
65 6 42.4 83 23.9
Sham 65 41.8 86 24.2
Comachio et al. [21] Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies Individualized 1-h sessions, twice a week for 6 weeks 33 3 49.0 70 26.9
Electroacupuncture 33 46.0 58 26.0
Di Cesare et al. [22] Complementary Therapies in Medicine Control 1 injection per week for 4 weeks 29 3 52.5 55  
Standardized 33 52.5 55  
Giles et al. [23] Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics Individualized 15- to 20-min appointments with subsequent low-volt electrical stimulation applied to the needles, 6 treatments applied in a 3- to 4-week period, (mean 6 treatments) 20 0 46.5 65  
Control Pills given for the defined 3- to 4-week treatment period, (mean 2 prescriptions) 21 35.0 81  
Control 15 to 20-min appointments, 6 treatments applied in a 3- to 4-week period, (mean 6 treatments) 36 42.5 47  
Giles et al. [24] Spine Standardized 20-min appointments, 2 treatments per week, maximum treatment duration of 9 weeks 36 12 37.5 44 25.8
Control Maximum treatment duration of 9 weeks 43 39.0 43 25.8
Control 20-min appointments, 2 treatments per week, maximum treatment duration of 9 weeks 36 39.0 49 25.8
Grant et al. [25] Pain Individualized 2 sessions of manual acupuncture weekly for 4 weeks 30 3 75.0   
TENS 27 72.0   
Haake et al. [26] Arch Intern Med Individualized Ten 30-min sessions, generally 2 sessions per week, and 5 additional sessions if, after the tenth session, patients experienced a 10% to 50% reduction in pain intensity 387 6 49.6 57 26.9
Sham 387 49.2 64 26.5
Control   388 51.3 58 26.3
Hasegawa et al. [27] Acupunct Med Standardized 5 sessions during 28 days 40 0 47.0 63  
Sham 40 43.9 65  
Hunter et al. [28] Clin J Pain Physiotherapy Supervised group exercise session lasting for 1 h a week for 6 weeks 27 6 43.2 59  
Auricular Manual AA for the first 6 weeks of the trial before each exercise session 24 42.4 67  
Inoue et al. [29] Acupunct Med Individualized Once 15   68.0 27  
Sham 16 70.0 38  
Itoh et al. [30] Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice Standardized 1 weekly treatment over 5 weeks 7 2.5   63  
TENS 7  
Acupuncture and TENS 7  
Control No specific treatment 7  
Itoh et al. [31] Acupunct Med Individualized 2 phases of 3 weeks, 12 weeks in total. Each patient received a total
of six 30 min treatments, one per week
9 2.75 70.1 71  
Individualized 9 71.9  
Standard 9 73.8  
Itoh et al. [30] Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice Standardized 5 treatments, once per week 8 2.5   63  
TENS 8  
Acupuncture and TENS 8  
Control   8  
Kalauokalani et al. [32] Spine Control Up to 10 treatments within 10 weeks   0    
Individualized     
Control      
Control   66 45.0 70  
Control   69 43.0 57  
Kennedy et al. [33] Complementary Therapies in Medicine Individualized Once or twice a week; min 3 and max 12 treatments over 4–6 weeks 23 3 46.5 46  
Sham 22 44.6 58  
Kerr et al. [34] Clin J Pain Standard The treatment program consisted of 6 of these sessions over a 6-week period. This reflected the routine pattern of attendance for outpatient physiotherapy. Patients were given a leaflet regarding their low back pain that included standardized advice and exercises 26 1.5 42.6 50  
Placebo-TENS 20 42.8 65  
Leibing et al. [35] Pain Standardized 20 sessions (each 30 min) of traditional and standardized acupuncture over 12 weeks, plus active physiotherapy. In the first 2 weeks of treatment, acupuncture was done five times a week, and in the next 10 weeks once a week. Plus physiotherapy 26 sessions (each 30 min) over 12 weeks 40 13 47.9 55 26.1
Sham 20 sessions (each 30 min) of minimal acupuncture over 12 weeks, plus active physiotherapy 26 sessions (each 30 min) over 12 weeks 45 49.0 60 25.9
Control Active physiotherapy with no other treatment 26 sessions (each 30 min) over 12 weeks 46 47.5 59 26.9
Liu et al. [36] Clin Rehab Standardized Usual care + assigned acupuncture intervention according to group allocation. 30-min treatment sessions were administered twice weekly 15 3 30.0 60 23.9
Standardized 15 37.1 60 27.0
Standardized 15 30.8 73 27.4
Luo et al. [37] Journal of traditional Chinese medicine Auricular 18 treatments were provided over 7 weeks 54 6 39.0 20  
Standardized 50 36.0 24  
Control 48 37.0 19  
Macdonald et al. [38] Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England Individualized Over a short period of time once a week. The maximum number of treatments between the two assessments was arbitrarily defined as 10 8 0   75  
Control 9   67  
Mendelson et al. [39] The American Journal of Medicine Standardized 4 weeks of treatment, twice weekly 36 1 54.5 47  
Control 41 53.6 56  
Meng et al. [40] Rheumatology Standardized In addition to standard therapy, subjects in this group received acupuncture treatments twice a week for 5 weeks, for a total of 10 sessions 31 2.25 72.0 58  
Control 5 weeks 24 70.0 63  
Miyazaki et al. [14] Clin J Pain Standardized A washout period of at least 4 weeks took place between phases 1 and 2 42   20.8   22.7
Control 39   21.0   25.1
Molsberger et al. [41] Pain Sham In addition to the daily conservative orthopedic therapy, all patients received 12 sham treatments, (30 min, 3/ week) 61 3 50.0 46  
Standardized In addition to the conventional conservative orthopedic therapy, 12 verum acupuncture treatments (30 min, 3/ week) 65 49.0 45  
Control These patients received the daily conventional conservative orthopedic treatment over 4 weeks 60 49.0 53  
Pach et al.[42] Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Standardized 2 treatment sessions per week had to be applied, with a maximum number of 10 to 15 sessions depending on the patient’s individual needs. The needle retention time was about 25 min 78 6.5 59.3 54 27.2
Individualized 72 56.1 63 27.0
Rajfur et al. [43] Medical science monitor TENS A series of 15 treatments, 5 times a week (Monday to Friday) for a period of 3 weeks 20 0 50.2 55 26.7
Acupuncture and TENS 20 52.1 60 27.0
Control 19 47.8 58 26.3
Control 21 48.7 62 26.1
Control 22 52.1 59 25.9
Control Motor improvement exercises were used for 3 weeks, 5 times a week, from Monday to Friday 21 49.8 62 26.1
Sator-Katzenschlager [44] Pain Medicine Electroacupuncture The acupuncture needles with the P-Stim™ devices were withdrawn 48 h after insertion in all cases and the acupuncture treatment was performed once a week for 48 h at home, for a total study period of 6 wk 61 1.5 54.1 71 26.6
Acupuncture 53.1 25.3
Shankar et al. [45] Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology Electroacupuncture 10 treatments over 3 weeks 30 0 36.2 53 22.9
Control 10 days of Valdecoxib and 3 weeks of physiotherapy 30 34.5 80 22.0
Control   30 35.9 57 23.3
Szczurko et al. [46] PLoS ONE Acupuncture Twice per week to receive 24 treatments over a period of 12 weeks 39 3 45.3 56 28.7
Control Participants randomized to the control group received an educational booklet (causes of back pain, prognosis, appropriate use of imaging studies and specialists, and exercises for promoting recovery and preventing recurrences) 36 48.0 44 27.7
Thomas et al. [47] BMJ Individualized 10 individualized treatment sessions over 3 months 159 24 42.0 62  
Control Patients in the usual care group received NHS treatment according to their general practitioner’s assessment of need 80 44.0 58  
Witt et al. [48] American J Epidemiology Individualized Maximum of 15 acupuncture sessions over 3 months 1451 6 53.1 58  
Control Conventional therapy 1390 52.6 57  
Yeung et al. [49] Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine Control An hourly session each week for 4 consecutive weeks + daily 15 months of home exercise 26 3 55.6 81 24.2
Standardized EA three times/ week, 4 weeks 26 50.4 85 25.5
Tsui et al. [50] The journal of alternative and complementary medicine Electroacupuncture Treatment for 20 min on a total of 6 acupuncture points. Treatment was delivered twice per week for 4 weeks (a total of 8 sessions) 14 1 39.7 76  
Electroacupuncture 14 39.1 71  
Control   14 40.9 62  
Tsukayama et al. [51] Acupuncture in medicine Electroacupuncture Twice a week for 2 weeks 10 0 47.0 89 22.5
TENS 10 43.0 80 22.2
Weiß et al. [52] The journal of alternative and complementary medicine Standardized 21-day inpatient rehabilitation and acupuncture twice weekly 74 3 49.8 27 30.0
Control 21-day inpatient rehabilitation 69 51.7 39 28.8
Yoo et al. [53] Journal of Korean Medicine Rehabilitation Standardized Treatment within 5 days. A total of 2 treatments 15 0 37.9   22.3
Sham 15 37.9   23.9
Yuan et al. [54] Complementary Therapies in Medicine Individualized 10 treatments; 2 times/week 15 12 43.5 40 27.0
10 treatments; 5 times/week 15 43.9 40 27.3
Yun et al. [55] The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine Control 18 treatments were provided over 7 weeks, every other day for 3 weeks and then twice weekly for 4 weeks 64 11 35.0 22  
Individualized 60 34.0 27  
Control   63 33.0 19  
Zaringhalam et al. [56] Chinese Medicine Journal Standardized Twice a week for 5 weeks 20 2.5 54.2 0 32.5
Control daily 20 55.1 29.2
Control Twice a week for 5 weeks 20 54.2 30.3
Control   20 54.3 31.0