Patient-based Outcome Assessment Instruments in Acupuncture Research

Published In: Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, v. 16, no. 1, Jan. 27, 2010, p. 27-35

Posted on on January 01, 2010

by Raheleh Khorsan, Alexandra York, Ian D. Coulter, Rachel Wurzman, Joan A G Walter, Remy R. Coeytaux

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

BACKGROUND: Outcome assessment can support the therapeutic process by providing a way to track symptoms and functionality over time, providing insights to clinicians and patients, as well as offering a common language to discuss patient behavior/functioning. OBJECTIVES: In this article, we examine the patient-based outcome assessment (PBOA) instruments that have been used to determine outcomes in acupuncture clinical research and highlight measures that are feasible, practical, economical, reliable, valid, and responsive to clinical change. The aims of this review were to assess and identify the commonly available PBOA measures, describe a framework for identifying appropriate sets of measures, and address the challenges associated with these measures and acupuncture. Instruments were evaluated in terms of feasibility, practicality, economy, reliability, validity, and responsiveness to clinical change. METHODS: This study was a systematic review. A total of 582 abstracts were reviewed using PubMed (from inception through April 2009). Results: A total of 582 citations were identified. After screening of title/abstract, 212 articles were excluded. From the remaining 370 citations, 258 manuscripts identified explicit PBOA; 112 abstracts did not include any PBOA. The five most common PBOA instruments identified were the Visual Analog Scale, Symptom Diary, Numerical Pain Rating Scales, SF-36, and depression scales such as the Beck Depression Inventory. CONCLUSIONS: The way a questionnaire or scale is administered can have an effect on the outcome. Also, developing and validating outcome measures can be costly and difficult. Therefore, reviewing the literature on existing measures before creating or modifying PBOA instruments can significantly reduce the burden of developing a new measure.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.