Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Trials and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

Acupuncture for menopausal vasomotor symptoms: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial

Marie Pirotta1*, Carolyn Ee1, Helena Teede2, Patty Chondros1, Simon French3, Stephen Myers4 and Charlie Xue5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne, Australia 200 Berkeley St, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia

2 Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Australia Diabetes and Vascular Medicine Unit, Monash Health, Wellington Rd, Clayton VIC 3800, Australia

3 Canada and Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University, Ontario, 99 University Ave, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada

4 NatMed-Research Unit, Division of Research, Southern Cross University, Military Road, East Lismore NSW 2480, Australia

5 School of Health Sciences, RMIT University, 124 Little La Trobe St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

Trials 2014, 15:224  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-224

Published: 12 June 2014

Abstract

Background

Hot flushes and night sweats (vasomotor symptoms) are common menopausal symptoms, often causing distress, sleep deprivation and reduced quality of life. Although hormone replacement therapy is an effective treatment, there are concerns about serious adverse events. Non-hormonal pharmacological therapies are less effective and can also cause adverse effects. Complementary therapies, including acupuncture, are commonly used for menopausal vasomotor symptoms. While the evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating vasomotor symptoms is inconclusive, acupuncture has a low risk of adverse effects, and two small studies suggest it may be more effective than non-insertive sham acupuncture. Our objective is to assess the efficacy of needle acupuncture in improving hot flush severity and frequency in menopausal women. Our current study design is informed by methods tested in a pilot study.

Methods/design

This is a stratified, parallel, randomised sham-controlled trial with equal allocation of participants to two trial groups. We are recruiting 360 menopausal women experiencing a minimum average of seven moderate hot flushes a day over a seven-day period and who meet diagnostic criteria for the Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis of Kidney Yin deficiency. Exclusion criteria include breast cancer, surgical menopause, and current hormone replacement therapy use. Eligible women are randomised to receive either true needle acupuncture or sham acupuncture with non-insertive (blunt) needles for ten treatments over eight weeks. Participants are blinded to treatment allocation. Interventions are provided by Chinese medicine acupuncturists who have received specific training on trial procedures. The primary outcome measure is hot flush score, assessed using the validated Hot Flush Diary. Secondary outcome measures include health-related quality of life, anxiety and depression symptoms, credibility of the sham treatment, expectancy and beliefs about acupuncture, and adverse events. Participants will be analysed in the groups in which they were randomised using an intention-to-treat analysis strategy.

Discussion

Results from this trial will significantly add to the current body of evidence on the role of acupuncture for vasomotor symptoms. If found to be effective and safe, acupuncture will be a valuable additional treatment option for women who experience menopausal vasomotor symptoms.

Trial registration

Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12611000393954 11/02/2009.

Keywords:
Acupuncture; Complementary medicine; Menopause; Hot flashes; Vasomotor symptoms; Quality of life; Placebo