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Electroacupuncture for Refractory Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Pilot Waitlist-Controlled Trial

Zhang, Zhang-Jin MD, PhD*; Wang, Xue-Yi MD; Tan, Qing-Rong MD; Jin, Gui-Xing MD; Yao, Shao-Min MD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: August 2009 - Volume 197 - Issue 8 - p 619-622
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181b05fd1
Brief Report

A large proportion of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) patients are refractory to pharmacological and cognitive-behavioral therapy. The aim of this pilot, waitlist-controlled trial was to evaluate the effectiveness of electroacupuncture (EA) as add-on therapy for treatment-resistant OCD. Nineteen patients with treatment-resistant OCD were assigned to EA treatment for 12 sessions (5 sessions per week, n = 10) or waitlist for controls (n = 9) while continuing their current anti-OCD medications. The clinical outcomes were measured using the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale and the Clinical Global Impression-Severity at baseline and end point. EA additional treatment produced significantly greater improvements at end point compared with the waitlist group in reducing both Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (10.2 ± 4.2 vs. 18.8 ± 7.4, p = 0.004) and Clinical Global Impression-Severity scores (3.0 ± 1.1 vs. 4.4 ± 1.1, p = 0.002). As an additional therapy, EA is effective in alleviating OCD symptoms of treatment-resistant patients. A large-scale controlled study is warranted.

*School of Chinese Medicine, the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China; †Mental Health Center and Department of Psychiatry, First Teaching Hospital, Hebei Medical University, Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China; and ‡Department of Psychiatry, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China.

Supported by projects funded by Sir Michael and Lady Kadoorie charitable donation; Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30870886) and the 11th Five-Year Project of Military Medicine Foundations (2008ZXJ09014-002 and 08Z031).

The authors Z.Z.J. and W.X.Y. contributed equally.

Send reprint requests to Zhang-Jin Zhang, MD, PhD, The School of Chinese Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, 10 Sassoon Rd, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, China. E-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.