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The efficacy of acupoint stimulation in the treatment of psychological distress: A meta-analysis

Citation (APA Style): Gilomen, S. A. & Lee, C. W. (2015). The efficacy of acupoint stimulation in the treatment of psychological distress: A meta-analysis. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 48, 140-148.


Background and objectives: Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a type of therapy involving the stimulation of acupuncture points while using a spoken affirmation to target a psychological issue. While some studies cite data indicating EFT is highly efficacious, findings in other studies are unconvincing. The aim of this meta-analysis was to examine the effect of EFT, particular acupoint stimulation, in the treatment of psychological distress.

Method: A systematic review of the literature identified 18 randomised control trials published in peer reviewed journals involving a total of 921 participants.

Results: A moderate effect size (Hedge’s g = -0.66: 95% CI: -0.99 to -0.33) and significantly high heterogeneity (I(2) = 80.78) across studies was found using a random effects model indicating that EFT, even after removing outliers (decreases in I(2) = 72.32 and Hedge’s g = -0.51:95% CI:-0.78 to -0.23), appears to produce an effect. The analysis involved 12 studies comparing EFT with waitlist controls, 5 with adjuncts and only 1 comparison with an alternate treatment. Meta-regression and subgroup analyses were conducted to examine the effect of moderators on effect size of symptom change following EFT.

Conclusions: Due to methodological shortcomings, it was not possible to determine if the effect is due to acupoint stimulation or simply due to treatment elements common with other therapies.

Click here to view the abstract on the Pubmed web site