Objective: To inform the potential revision of Standards for Reporting Interventions in Controlled Trials of Acupuncture (STRICTA), we sought the opinion of acupuncture trial authors and systematic reviewers to rank the utility of the guidelines and asked trial authors about their experiences using them.
Design: Questionnaires ranking STRICTA items and qualitative responses about experience using the guidelines.
Sample: The authors of 38 randomized controlled acupuncture trials randomly selected from a systematic search of those published in 2004 and 2005 were contacted with a questionnaire. Authors of 14 Cochrane acupuncture systematic reviews or protocols published in the same time frame were also sent a questionnaire.
Results: Fifty-four percent (54%) (28/52) of the sample responded. Among the trial authors, 58% (11/19) used STRICTA to help guide their writing, but more than half of these reported that the editing process had removed some or all of the STRICTA-specific items. STRICTA was seen as a helpful reference, but authors requested that some items be clarified. Respondents tended to rank the utility of STRICTA highly overall, but five items in particular were not highly valued; three of these pertained to details on the trial acupuncturists' background. Authors flagged potential difficulties of reporting unusual trial designs in the current format of STRICTA.
Conclusions: Authors of acupuncture trials and systematic reviews believe that STRICTA contributes to the reporting of acupuncture interventions and rate it highly. Because very few acupuncture studies are published in STRICTA-adopting journals, the editing process for journals unaware of the guidelines may be responsible for deleting acupuncture intervention-specific items. Several items remain unclear, and the relevance of STRICTA to some trial designs is questioned. A review of STRICTA is warranted to clarify and reconsider items, and targeted promotion to non-complementary and alternative medicine journals should be considered.