Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared all forms of acupuncture with a control group (no treatment, a placebo, or a pharmacological or non-pharmacological treatment) in patients with alcohol dependence defined with recognised criteria were eligible for inclusion. Studies that compared different forms of acupuncture against each other were excluded. The primary outcomes were change in craving for alcohol, completion rates of treatment, withdrawal symptoms, relapse rates and use of alcohol. A secondary outcome was incidence of acupuncture-related adverse events.
Included studies evaluated classical acupuncture, electroacupuncture, laser acupuncture and auricular acupuncture. Most studies permitted additional conventional therapies. Duration and frequency of acupuncture treatment varied between studies. Where reported, patients' mean age ranged from 32.3 to 47.9 years.
The authors did not state how many reviewers performed the study selection.