Electroacupuncture is Not Effective For Comorbid Generalized Anxiety Disorder & Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Dun Ping Arthur Mak, Chi Ho Vincent Chung, Yuen Suet Ying, Yee Kit Tse, Yeung Shan Samuel Wong, Yanli Ju, Sheung Sheung Hung, Ka Chun Leung, Hoi Sze Joyce You, Rashid Lui, Sunny Hei Wong, Ngo Wang Owen Leung, Chiu Wa Linda Lam, Sing Lee, CheYuen Justin Wu
Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2019 March 19

BACKGROUND AND AIM: Comorbid generalized anxiety disorder and irritable bowel syndrome are common and therapeutically challenging. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of electroacupuncture in relieving anxiety and bowel symptoms in Chinese adults with this form of comorbidity.

METHODS: In a single-blind randomized sham-controlled trial, subjects with comorbid generalized anxiety disorder and irritable bowel syndrome were randomly assigned to receive 10 weekly sessions of electroacupuncture or sham electroacupuncture. Patients were assessed at baseline, immediately after intervention and at 6-week follow-up. Primary outcome was anxiety (7-item Patient Health Questionnaire section for anxiety) . Secondary outcomes included bowel symptoms (bowel symptoms questionnaire), depressive symptoms (9-item Patient Health Questionnaire), somatic symptoms (15-item Patient Health Questionnaire) and health-related quality of life (Euroqol-5 dimensions).

RESULTS: 80 subjects, 40 in each arm, were randomized. All but 2 in the sham group completed 10 weekly sessions. There was no significant difference in the proportion of patients experiencing significant (>/= 50%) reduction of anxiety symptoms between the two groups immediately after intervention (32.4% vs 21.6%, p=0.06) and at 6-week follow-up (25.7% in electroacupuncture vs 27% in sham, p=0.65). Anxiety, depressive, bowel symptom severity did not differ significantly between electroacupuncture and sham groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings failed to support the effectiveness of electroacupuncture for comorbid generalized anxiety disorder and irritable bowel syndrome. Further studies are needed to identify effective acupuncture treatment protocols for such comorbidity.

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