Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not acupuncture therapy is effective in the improvement of symptoms of insomnia in adults.

STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review of three randomized controlled trials published in 2017 and 2018.

DATA SOURCES: Articles published in peer-reviewed journals using PubMed Database.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: The outcome measured was the patients’ decrease in insomnia symptoms through the use of self-administered questionnaires such as the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and through a sleep diary.

RESULTS: The studies by Yin, Gou, Xu, et al. (Sleep Med. 2017;37:193-200. doi: S1389- 9457(17)30093-X [pii]) and Fu, Zhao, Liu, et al. (Sleep. 2017;40(11):10.1093/sleep/zsx153. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsx153 [doi]) both found the improvement in insomnia symptoms for patients who received true acupuncture as opposed to sham acupuncture to be statistically significant with a pvalue of 0.001 or less. However, Chung, Yeung, Yu, et al. (Acupunct Med. 2018;36(1):2-13. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2017-011371 [doi]) did not find a significant difference between the treatment and control groups, with the p-value of 0.08 for the acupuncture-only group proving the estimate of treatment effect was not precise. Yet, the treatment groups were still better at improving insomnia symptoms than the waitlist.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of all three trials were encouraging for acupuncture alleviating insomnia symptoms. Further studies are necessary to assess the long-term benefits of acupuncture treatment for decreasing insomnia symptoms. Additionally, future research should evaluate the efficacy of using different acupoints and/or the minimum amount of sessions needed to experience any amelioration of symptoms.