Over the last 20 years, many clinical trials have attempted to assess the benefits of acupuncture on IVF treatment but they have all  differed in study design, protocol, outcome measures and commercial bias. This heterogeneity has precluded any firm conclusion regarding the efficacy or otherwise of acupuncture in this field. To address this heterogeneity, and to try and  provide an evidence based conclusion , it was decided to adopt the Delphi consensus protocol which was reached in 2012 via 15 international acupuncturists with extended experience in treating women with acupuncture during IVF. This protocol was recommended for future research (Smith et al 2012) but so far has not been implemented:  this is the first study to use it.
The  study was a randomised controlled trial which was  conducted over 2 years at the fertility department of the Homerton hospital in London. The primary end point was live birth rate.
The final results show a large difference between the acupuncture group and the control group in favour of acupuncture.  The acupuncture group was found to be superior for both positive pregnancy tests   and live birth rates.
 The results of this study suggest that acupuncture should be offered as a possible method of improving IVF outcome. This study is the first to follow a widely approved consensus protocol hoping to settle disagreement in the literature and resolve previous disparity.

The Acupuncture Trialists Collaboration published a seminal paper on acupuncture for chronic pain in 2012, which already has been cited over 500 times. The chronic pain conditions included back and neck pain, shoulder pain, osteoarthritis and headache and migraine. In this presentation Hugh will provide an update of the results, with the addition of data from 10 more trials published between 2008 and 2015, totalling of 39 trials and over 20,000 patients.

The findings reinforce the message of the original meta-analysis, namely that acupuncture has a moderate effect when compared to non-acupuncture controls (such as usual care or wait-list) and a small effect when compared to sham acupuncture. The main criticism of the study, that the difference between acupuncture and sham is too small to be meaningful, will be addressed by comparing effect sizes across a range of interventions vs. sham or placebo. Also new data will be presented on the trajectory of reported outcomes, estimating that only 15% of the benefit is lost at 12 months after treatment.

Mark stepped in due to technical problems that stopped the intended web based discussion with Anxiety UK.

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