Nicola Robinson (Chair), Lixing Lao (Co-Chair) and Jianping Liu (Co-Chair)



Acupuncture education, training, practice, regulation and provision varies geographically and  culturally. This diversity was identified in the initial GPTCM project funded by the European Commission (Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2012;140:455-643).

Integration of acupuncture into healthcare outside of China is variable and to achieve inclusion into healthcare a strong evidence base is necessary,  for its wider and acceptance and implementation.

However, the challenge is to ensure that the  research underpinning the evidence base facilitates integrated care provision and that it is linked to clinical guidelines.


To  evaluate the current status of acupuncture research, education and practice across cultures, embrace different methodologies and establish common goals for cross cultural co operation.

Membership :

We welcome researchers, acupuncturists, TCM practitioners, scientists and professionals who support our objectives to join the AIG. We also hope that those who have an interest in acupuncture and moxibustion research and its dissemination to the wider international community will join us in  facilitating its integration into healthcare for patient benefit. 

Objectives :

  • Develop a communication and collaboration platform to evaluate the current status of interdisciplinary acupuncture research and practice cross culturally
  • Encourage collaborations with existing relevant societies, consortia and organizations
  • Define and prioritise research areas or topics in acupuncture.
  • Identify the best approach to obtain practitioner input in determining the direction of future clinical trials
  • Obtain general agreement on the common standards for acupuncture protocols for RCTs
  • Ensure that traditional acupuncture practice is captured in acupuncture research by involving acupuncture practitioners in quality improvements in research, making it relevant to their practice while satisfying the critics in the scientific community?
  • Develop appropriate Acupuncture Control Assessment Guidelines to assess the risk of bias from sham placebo controls by developing and standardising the terminology used to describe control procedures for use in clinical trials
  • Ensure that international, multicentre, pragmatic studies of traditional treatmentsincorporate (comparative) effectiveness and safety outcomes and investigate transferablility to other cultures
  • Summarise the possible mechanisms of action of acupuncture

Actions for the AIG group are to identify :

  • topics that can contribute to developing a strategy for a wider collaborative project.
  • the evidence gaps for acupuncture, and how can these be identified?
  • the importance of mechanism studies, contributing to new theories and suggested mechanisms.
  • whether the evidence for acupuncture is strong enough and identify appropriate trial design/ methodologies.
  • whether evidence reflects TCM theories
  • methods of evidence dissemination – education, publication
  • how this impact reflects on patient care internationally
  • the relevance of evidence to practicefor the patient/practitioner
  • the influence of evidence on implementation
  • bias in the selection of evidence used in clinical guidelines and policy
  • developments in acupuncture research methodology e.g. pragmatic studies, complex interventions
  • other research priorities

Outputs :

  • Organize and co-organize scientific meetings
  • Support young researchers at different levels, including BSc, MSc, PhD and post-doctoral programmes through publication and dissemination
  • Encourage collaborations with existing relevant societies, consortia and organizations;
  • Continue to encouragegood practice in publishing TCM research outputs
  • Provide clinical guidelines for acupuncture, and evidence for their use in acupuncture practice?
  • Advocate high-quality evidence-based research to promote its integration with conventional medicine
  • Publish good quality research

The challenge is to ensure research underpinning the evidence base facilitates integrated care provision and is linked to clinical guidelines.

Publications on current issues in Acupuncture

The recent BMJ collection on acupuncture analyzes the progress in developing high quality research, methodological limitations and the unique research challenges encountered when evaluating acupuncture as a therapeutic option. Note, this article collection (published 2022) includes input from some GPTCM-RA members.

See – Acupuncture: How to improve the evidence base.