Effect of Acupuncture on Hemodialysis Patients


Universidade do Porto




Hemodialysis Patients
Quality of Life
Activities of Daily Living
Acupuncture Therapy


Other: Acupuncture
Other: Sham Acupuncture

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


The proposed randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluated the effect of acupuncture treatment on the functional capacity (FC) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in stage 5 Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patients receiving maintenance dialysis. A total of 60 end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients undergoing hemodialysis (HD) from a dialysis centre (Portugal), were randomly assigned to acupuncture, sham and control group.

Full description

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients undergoing hemodialysis (HD) experience multiple physical and emotional problems, undergo a complex and demanding treatment regimen, face a disruptive chronic disease with a significant decrease in functional capacity and a high impact on their HRQoL. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been progressively more accepted as an effective therapeutic approach. The fundamental questions guiding our entire research project were: What is the effect of TCM therapeutic strategies in the improvement of symptoms resulting from renal replacement therapy, in ESRD patients undergoing HD? Does acupuncture have a positive effect on FC and HRQoL of hemodialysis patient? If so, are the results maintained over the long term? And what is the effectiveness of short-term intensive interventions when compared to less frequent and prolonged interventions over time? Is it possible to integrate acupuncture into the dialysis care routine? Based on previous research questions and the complexity of CKD, the objectives of our study were: 1) to assess the effect of acupuncture on FC and HRQoL of ESRD patients undergoing hemodialysis; 2) evaluate the specific effects of acupuncture as compared to sham; 3) evaluate short and long term effects of acupuncture; 4) determine the difference between short-term intensive and ongoing but less-frequent acupuncture treatments; 5) to assess the feasibility of integrating acupuncture on dialysis care.


60 patients




18+ years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

Male and female patients, age 18 years or older, receiving regular hemodialysis (HD) treatment for more than 3 months, 3-times a week session, 4h per session, with medically stable condition.

Exclusion criteria

Patients that refuse to participate in the study, who have a clinical indication that prevents their participation in the study and patients with other comorbidities as poorly controlled malignant hypertension, unstable angina, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, cerebrovascular failure with recurrent syncope, uncontrolled heart failure, severe mental illness or cognitive impairment will be excluded. Other conditions such as inability to practice physical exercise, have had acupuncture treatment in the past two weeks, known hypersensitivity reaction and/or other side effects after acupuncture treatment, inability to cooperate with the procedures inherent to the application of the procedure, will be also excluded from study.

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Double Blind

60 participants in 3 patient groups, including a placebo group

Acupuncture Group
Experimental group
Experimental groups were divided into subgroup A and B and both received a total of 9 acupuncture treatments. However Acupuncture Subgroup A received 3 acupuncture sessions over 3 weeks and Acupuncture Subgroup B received 1 acupuncture session for 9 weeks. The same selection of acupuncture points were applied to both subgroups.
Other: Acupuncture
Sham Acupuncture Group
Placebo Comparator group
Sham Acupuncture groups were also divided into subgroup A and B and both received a total of 9 treatments. Sham Acupuncture subgroup A received 3 sessions over 3 weeks and Sham Acupuncture subgroup B received 1 session for 9 weeks. Sham Acupuncture subgroups received acupuncture on non-acupuncture points.
Other: Sham Acupuncture
Non-Acupuncture Group
No Intervention group
Non-acupuncture treatment.

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from clinicaltrials.gov

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