Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York, USA) and University of York (York, UK) researchers conclude that acupuncture is “more effective than both usual care and sham acupuncture” for the treatment of chronic pain. The researchers state that their conclusion is based on “robust evidence from high-quality trials on acupuncture” with a sample size of approximately 18,000 patients. Specifically, the researchers find acupuncture effective for alleviating pain due to knee osteoarthritis, low back pain, headaches, and migraines.  They add, “Acupuncture was also found to be better than standard medical care for all of these chronic pain conditions.” Moreover, the researchers find acupuncture a cost-effective treatment modality for the alleviation of both knee pain and depression. The researchers note, “Our research also provides a valuable basis for considering the potential role of acupuncture as a referral option in health care and enabling providers and policy-makers to make decisions based on robust sources of evidence.” 
Cost efficiency can have a dramatic impact public policy in regards to healthcare recommendations. The efficacy of acupuncture has been well studied for a variety of conditions but its cost efficiency has widely overlooked. To that end, the National Institute for Health Research (UK) conducted a massive meta-analysis in which they examined the efficacy and cost efficiency of acupuncture for a range of conditions: musculoskeletal pain of the neck and low back, osteoarthritis of the knee, headache and migraine, and depression. They synthesized data for nearly 18,000 patients with chronic pain and depression and found that acupuncture was more effective than both sham acupuncture and usual care for all the conditions studied. In addition, when considering high quality studies, acupuncture was found to be cost efficient for osteoarthritis of the knee. In a randomized controlled trial of acupuncture and counseling in comparison to standard care for the treatment of depression (in which half the patients experienced comorbid pain), the researchers found that acupuncture is equally effective as counseling and that acupuncture is more cost efficient than counseling. These results provide policymakers and healthcare professionals a more nuanced perspective for recommending acupuncture as an alternative or adjunct treatment for chronic pain and depression.