Authors disgruntled as “acupuncture on the battlefield” article sparks expression of concern – Retraction Watch


A newspaper slapped an expression of concern over a 2021 article on the usefulness of self-administered acupuncture on the “battlefield” in soldiers, citing readers who said the FDA had not approved the devices for this use – a point to which the authors, who object. the movement, dismissed as irrelevant and misleading.

The study, published in Medical acupunctureexamined the experiences of a dozen veterans from an Ohio hospital in Virginia who allegedly self-administered acupuncture to treat chronic pain. According to this 2010 US Army article:

Battlefield Acupuncture is a type of ear (auricular) acupuncture – needling is performed on the outer part of the ear. The concept that the ear is linked to all parts of the body dates back to the origins of traditional French, German and Chinese medicine …

The needles [typically] look like tiny gold earrings and can stay in the ear for up to several days or more. After each application, the patient walks for approximately 2 minutes to determine if any pain effects are occurring and if further applications are needed.

The technique was developed by Richard C. Niemtzow, a now retired Air Force medic and colonel who is said to have been the first full-time medical acupuncturist in the military. Niemtzow is also the editor-in-chief of Medical acupuncture.

The article was titled “Self-administration of auricular acupuncture in rural veterans with chronic pain: A pilot project” and it was published online in October. According to the expression of concern:

The journal received communications from several sources raising significant concerns regarding the claims made in this article regarding the self-administration of Battlefield Acupuncture and the self-use of acupuncture needles by patients. Each communication states that acupuncture needles are considered FDA approved medical equipment and are not intended for self-administration by the patient.

An official survey of the authors’ institution was launched by the editors and publisher of the journal. Such an investigation can be a lengthy process, but the newspaper will update this notice once a resolution is reached.

Brian james

Brian James, pain specialist at Chillicothe VA Medical Center and first author of the article, said he and his colleagues were blinded by the expression of concern and did not agree with the journal’s decision to report the article:

The criticism has nothing to do with the data or the scientific content of the study. Many people I have spoken with, including other acupuncturist physicians and people above the level of VA complementary medicine, believe this expression of concern is unusual and unfounded. No one I have corresponded with in the approval chain objected to this study. I don’t know of any actual doctor who objected to this study, and I have not been told who objected, although I do know of a chiropractor acupuncturist and other non-doctor acupuncturists in Virginia who objected.

The criticism is only due to the fact that we have allowed patients to self-administer with these small needles, which is consistent with well-established medical practice of allowing patients to use sharps on themselves to self-administer. other medical conditions such as blood sugar tests in diabetes. … This was literally an IRB approved clinical trial to see if it was feasible and safe on a small scale to see if a larger study is warranted. The objection is literally “you can’t do this because it’s not FDA approved for it”. Taking the logic of their objection at face value and applying it consistently to other clinical trials would mean you could only investigate new things for conditions and indications for which they are already approved by the FDA (this which is obviously an absurd statement).

James – whose group submitted a detailed response to the expression of concern (less a rebuttal and a proposal for a way forward) that was not published but which we have been given permission to publish – added that ‘It is :

while waiting for the publishing house to remove the expression of concern, which is not due to any scientific objection as indicated above. I suspect [it] is due to someone trying to keep this acupuncture modality.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for MaryAnn Liebert, who owns Medical acupuncturetold us he would issue a letter to the editor from an author unrelated to James’ group “by the end of this week.”

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