Trial of intensive acupuncture for smoking cessation: A pilot study.
Despite the significant decline in smoking rates in the USA over the last 50 years, 42 million Americans continue to smoke. Although the combination of behavioural counselling with FDA-approved medications offers the best evidence-based treatment approach, 12-month relapse rates remain at >60%. Both healthcare providers and patients are searching for alternative treatment options. Most acupuncture trials have yielded poor results for smoking cessation; however, most trials have not used an intense treatment protocol and maintained treatment for at least 12 weeks.
We designed a pilot study to address these methodological problems. Twenty-eight smokers were recruited to attend two 1 h acupuncture sessions weekly for 12 weeks. Primary endpoints included completion rate, acceptability of the protocol and side effects. Secondary endpoints included carbon monoxide (CO)-confirmed, 7-day point prevalence quit rates at 12 weeks and 26 weeks.
Sixteen of the 28 patients enrolled (57%) completed 12 weeks of treatment. Of the 17 patients who completed the end-of-study questionnaire, 94% (16/17) rated the programme as helpful, and 82% noted they would recommend it to friends for smoking cessation. Three of the 28 who initially enrolled in the study were confirmed abstinent at 12 weeks (10.7%); one of the 28 (3.6%) was abstinent at 26 weeks.
A larger study with a slightly less rigorous and more acceptable treatment protocol is feasible and should be considered.