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    High Acupuncture Expectations Not Linked to Outcomes

    In patients with low back pain, pretreatment preferences don't predict later improvement

    FRIDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with chronic low back pain, having a positive predisposition toward acupuncture doesn't predict better outcomes, according to research published in the July 1 issue of Spine.

    Karen J. Sherman, Ph.D., of the Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, and colleagues analyzed data from 477 patients with chronic low back pain and no history of acupuncture use. Participants were randomized to one of three groups receiving 10 treatments of real or simulated acupuncture over a seven-week period. Outcomes were functional status measured by the Roland Morris Disability Scale score and symptom bothersomeness at eight and 52 weeks after randomization.

    The researchers found that high pretreatment expectations for acupuncture success, greater general expectations for improvement, and a positive impression of acupuncture didn't significantly predict improvement in back-related symptoms or function at eight or 52 weeks. However, after five treatments, revised expectations of success did predict symptom and function outcomes at eight and 52 weeks.

    "Our study demonstrates that positive pretreatment beliefs about medical therapies do not always lead to enhanced outcomes, even for complementary and alternative medical therapies. The relationship between patient expectations and treatment outcomes seems to be complex. Advances in this burgeoning area of research will require development of more sophisticated conceptual models and measures of expectation," the authors conclude.

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