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.