A randomized, controlled trial of acupuncture self-needling as maintenance therapy for cancer-related fatigue after therapist-delivered acupuncture

Alexandros Molasiotis, J. Bardy, J. Finnegan-John, P. Mackereth, W. D. Ryder, F. Filshie, E. Ream, D. Eaton, A. Richardson

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Maintenance acupuncture is advocated by clinicians after successful clinic-based acupuncture. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of maintenance acupuncture in the management of cancer-related fatigue (CRF); treatment delivered by therapists or self-acupuncture/self-needling was compared with no maintenance treatment. Methods: Breast cancer patients who participated in a randomized trial of acupuncture for CRF management (reported elsewhere) were re-randomized to receive an additional four acupuncturist-delivered weekly sessions; four self-administered weekly acupuncture sessions (self-needling); or no acupuncture. Primary outcome was general fatigue (Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory). Mood, quality of life and safety were also assessed. Results: In total, 197 patients were re-randomized, with 65 to therapist-delivered sessions, 67 to self-acupuncture/ self-needling and 65 to no further acupuncture. Primary outcome scores were equivalent between the therapistdelivered acupuncture and self-acupuncture (P > 0.05). A non-significant trend in improving fatigue was observed at the end of 4 weeks in the combined acupuncture arms (P = 0.07). There was no impact on mood or quality of life of the further acupuncture sessions at 18 weeks beyond the improvement observed in initial trial. Conclusion: Self-acupuncture is an acceptable, feasible and safe maintenance treatment for patients with CRF. However, overall, maintenance acupuncture did not yield important improvements beyond those observed after an initial clinic-based course of acupuncture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1645-1652
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013


  • Acupuncture
  • Breast cancer
  • Fatigue
  • Maintenance treatment
  • Self-acupuncture
  • Self-needling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology

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