Background: Evaluating the clinical efﬁcacy of acupuncture analgesia with high-level evidence, such as Systematic Review (SRs) and randomised-controlled trials (RCTs), has attracted wide interest.
Objectives: To collect a sample of published SRs and RCTs on acupuncture analgesia in PubMed and examine them in terms of reporting characteristics and quality.
Methods: A search in PubMed was performed in January 2017. All SRs and RCTs on acupuncture analgesia were included. To assess the quality of the RCTs, CCRBT was used. For the SRs, AMSTAR and PRISMA Statements were used. EndNote X4 and Excel were used for data description and analysis.
Results: 4045 articles were retrieved in total, the high-level evidence was 372, which included: i) SRs (139, 3,4%), the yearly number of publications ranging from 1 in 1997 to 28 in 2016; 18 (12.9) SRs were Cochrane Systematic Reviews, and 123 (88.5%) were published in Science Citation Index (SCI) journals; The UK was the country with the highest number of publications (34, 24.5%). Low back pain (16, 11.5%), headache (10, 7.2%), cancer pain (9, 6.5%), and labour pain (9, 6.5%) were the most reported diseases or phenotypes; 78 (56.1%) SRs conducted meta-analysis using RevMan software, and 64 (46.0%) SRs used the CCRBT for quality assessment; 71 (51.1%) SRs were assessed as high reporting quality, and 26 (18.7%) were high methodological quality. RCTs (233, 5.8% ), which were identified across 61 journals, of which 56.7% of articles were SCI-indexed (impact factor 0.4–20); Most of the articles were published in China (105, 45.1%), UK (51, 21.9%) and USA (50, 21.5%); Postoperative pain (21, 9.0%) and manual acupuncture (107, 45.9%) was the most prevalent; 192 (82.4%) trials were considered to be at high risk of bias.
Conclusions: The quantity and the quality of the SRs and RCTs regarding acupuncture analgesia have been promoted in recent years. More effort should be expended on the reporting and methodological quality to improve the validity of the high-level evidence.