A number of studies have shown the positive effects of acupuncture on state anxiety. However, the efficacy of acupuncture in treating anxiety disorder remains unclear. This review and meta‐analysis aimed to explore whether acupuncture has a positive effect on anxiety disorder.
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) published in English and Chinese were found through various electronic databases, including PubMed, Scopus, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Embase, and the Chinese databases WanFang data, VIP Chinese Sci tech periodical database, and China National Knowledge Infrastructure. The primary outcome variable was extent of anxiety symptoms. The secondary outcomes included side effects and dropout rate. Effect sizes were pooled by random‐effects modelling using Rev Man 5.3.
Twenty RCTs were included in this systematic review and meta‐analysis. All included studies were designed for patients with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), and 18 studies were published in Chinese. Egger’s test showed that the asymmetry of the funnel plot in all studies was not significant (t = − 0.34, p = 0.74). The meta‐analysis of anxi‐ ety symptoms showed that acupuncture was more effective than the control condition, with a standard mean effect size of − 0.41 (95% CI − 0.50 to − 0.31; p < 0.001), and that acupuncture intervention showed good tolerance and safety in the treatment of anxiety disorder.
Our findings suggest that acupuncture therapy aimed at reducing anxiety in patients with GAD has certain beneficial effects compared to controls. More RCTs with high quality should be conducted to fully under‐ stand the role of acupuncture in the treatment of various types of anxiety disorder. The protocol of this review was registered at the Prospero International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (Registration ID: PROSPERO 2020CRD42020148536).
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