Claudia M. Witt

Thursday, May 17

16:30 – 17:15

International Perspectives on Acupuncture Research – Where Do We Stand, Where Should We Go?

Claudia M. Witt, MD, MBA

Professor of Medicine, Vice Director of the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, University Medical Center Charité Berlin; President International Society for Complementary Medicine Research (ISCMR)



Presentation Overview

Acupuncture is one of the most widespread CAM treatments and more than 1000 randomized controlled trials on acupuncture have been published over the last decade. The available research has shown that for a number of diseases acupuncture is more effective than a usual care intervention or even a conventional standard care intervention, however, there is an ongoing discussion about the acupuncture point-specific effects and the validity of different sham controls. In addition to methodological considerations on acupuncture’s complexity, this presentation will highlight the newest research on its efficacy and effectiveness. Included are results from 1) a patient-level meta-analysis summarizing the evidence from 29 studies on acupuncture for chronic pain (Vickers 2010), 2) the first meta-analysis on fMRI studies for acupuncture and 3) results from large recent clinical trials on allergic rhinitis and migraine.

More research on acupuncture mechanisms and the influence of context is needed.  An increased emphasis on Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) promises to strengthen the evidence base for clinical and policy decision-making. Available acupuncture research already contributes to CER (Witt 2012) and the newly developed Effectiveness Guidance Document for acupuncture research will support future optimal use of research resources.



  • Vickers A et al. Individual patient data meta-analysis of acupuncture for chronic pain: protocol of the Acupuncture Trialists' Collaboration. Trials. 2010 Sep 28;11:90
  • Witt CM et al: How well do randomized trials inform decision making: systematic review using comparative effectiveness research measures on acupuncture for back pain. PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e3239



Dr. Claudia M. Witt, MD, MBA is Professor for Medicine and Vice Director of the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at the University Medical Center Charité in Berlin, Germany.  Since May 2008, she is Carstens Foundation Distinguished Professor for Complementary Medicine Research. In addition to her position at the Charité, she is Visiting Professor at Center of Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Over the last 10 years she was involved in a number of studies, including large acupuncture studies, comparative effectiveness research and health economic evaluations. She is the President of the International Society for Complementary Medicine Research (ISCMR), has more than 100 publications in peer reviewed journals and developed the first international summer school on complementary medicine research methods which is offered annually.