Efficacy and safety of acupuncture for depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Binglei Chen, Carol Chunfeng Wang, Khui Hung Lee, Jianhong Cecilia Xia, Zongting Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Acupuncture is widely accepted as a therapeutic option for managing depression. However, evidence from clinical trials remains controversial. This review aims to synthesize the best available evidence on the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in managing depression. The review was performed according to PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis) guidelines. Five databases and the relevant trial registries were searched from the inception to October 2021. Randomized clinical trials of acupuncture for managing depression, published in English, were selected for inclusion. The quality of included studies was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Netmeta and dmetar of R packages were used to conduct a network meta-analysis. Twenty-two trials with 2391 participants were eligible and included in the analysis. This review found evidence that electroacupuncture (EA) plus antidepressant achieved superior outcomes compared with the waitlist (standardized mean difference = −8.86, 95% confidence interval: −14.78 to −2.93). The treatment ranking of different interventions in improving depression symptoms indicated that EA plus antidepressant with a probability of 0.8294, followed by manual acupuncture (MA) plus antidepressant (0.6470) and MA (0.5232). Acupuncture, either in isolation or as an adjunct to pharmacological treatment, has clinical benefits and can be considered a safe option for managing depression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-67
Number of pages20
JournalResearch in Nursing and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


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