The origins of STRICTA

The idea of STRICTA was first put forward at a meeting of an international group of acupuncture researchers at Exeter University, United Kingdom, by Dr Hugh MacPherson in July 2001. The group (below) agreed that the improvement of reporting of acupuncture trials was a worthwhile aim, and then drafted a set of recommendations for better reporting of acupuncture trial interventions. Named the STRICTA guidelines (STandards for Reporting Interventions in Controlled Trials of Acupuncture), they were designed as an expansion of the one item in the CONSORT Statement that related to the description of the intervention. 

Some of the group who contributed at the original STRICTA meeting.
Back row: Chris Zaslawski, Steve Birch, Val Hopwood, Lixing Lao, Hugh MacPherson, Kien Trinh.
Front row: Richard Hammerschlag, Marco Romoli, Kenji Kawakita, Karen Sherman, Adrian White

Further development of STRICTA

The STRICTA guidelines went through a second drafting phase with five journal editors and their advisors, which involved refining the checklist to six key items. The guiding principle was a commitment to achieving a broad enough set of recommendations that would cover the most common approaches to both acupuncture and research design. These early recommendations were co-published in five articles by key journals in the field. Participating journals were Acupuncture in Medicine, Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine and Medical Acupuncture. Subsequently the Australian Journal of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine has joined this group. Participating journals have added the STRICTA recommendations to their instructions to authors. Translations into languages other than English became available in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian.

Two early reviews of STRICTA were conducted. The first was a review of the experiences of authors of clinical trials and systematic reviews (Prady & MacPherson 2007). The second was a review of the impact of STRICTA over the six years to 2007 (Prady et al 2008). Little improvement of reporting over time was noted in these reviews.

Then in 2008, the STRICTA Group started working with the CONSORT Group Executive (David Moher and Doug Altman) and the Chinese Cochrane Centre (Wu Taixiang and Li Youping) to revise the STRICTA guidelines as an “official” extension to CONSORT. The group conducted a consultation process with 47 experts. This was followed by a one day consensus-building event, held in Freiburg on Oct 2nd 2008, where the group reviewed potential revisions to the content of STRICTA items. A writing group was then formed, which steered the revised version of STRICTA to publication. The processes undertaken as part of revising STRICTA have been described in more detail elsewhere (MacPherson and Altman 2009).

A recent review of STRICTA provides some evidence that STRICTA is associated with an improvement in the quality of reporting (Svenkerud and MacPherson, 2018).

Acknowledgments for STRICTA 2010  

This revision to STRICTA has benefited from contributions from many people.

Support and administrative help in managing the process of revising STRICTA has come from Anne Burton, Ann Hopton, Suzanne Jenna, Stephanie Prady, and Tracy Stuardi.

The Steering Group comprised Doug Altman and David Moher (CONSORT), Hugh MacPherson and Richard Hammerschlag (STRICTA), and Li Youping and Wu Taixiang (Chinese Cochrane Centre).  

The consultation with experts in 2008, which was piloted with the help of Mark Bovey, Val Hopwood and Adrian White, involved a panel consisting of:

Joyce Anastasi, Stephen Birch, Joao Bosco, Claudia Citkovitz, Remy Coeytaux, Misha Cohen, Agatha Colbert, Helen Elden, Reginaldo de Carvalho Silva Filho, Alastair Forbes, Nadine Foster, Joel Gagnier, Mark Goldby, Marita Gronlund, Richard Harris, Dominik Irnich, Helene Langevin, Lao Lixing, Anna Lee, Lee Hyangsook, Lee Myeongsoo, Lee Sanghoon, George Lewith, Klaus Linde, Liu Jianping, Ryan Milley, Scott Mist, Dieter Melchart, Albrecht Molsberger, Vitaly Napadow, Richard Niemtzow, Park Jongbae, Mahmood Saghaei, Koosnadi Saputra, Rosa Schnyer, Charles Shang, Karen Sherman, Shin Byung-Cheul, Caroline Smith, Elisabet Stener-Victorin, Kien Trinh, Jorge Vas, Andrew Vickers, Peter White, Claudia Witt, Hitoshi Yamashita and Christopher Zaslawski.  

The 2010 STRICTA Revision Group, who participated in the consensus-building workshop in Freiburg in October 2008, comprised the six members of the Steering Group and Stephen Birch, Isabelle Boutron, Mark Bovey, Fei Yutong, Joel Gagnier, Sally Hopewell, Val Hopwood, Susanne Jena, Klaus Linde, Liu Jianping, Kien Trinh, Emma Veitch, Adrian White, and Hitoshi Yamashita. 

The publication of the revised STRICTA guidelines in 2010 supersedes the previous version, first published 2001 and 2002. Users of STRICTA should use the 2010 version when reporting clinical trials or interpreting published reports. 


MacPherson H, Altman DG. Improving the quality of reporting acupuncture interventions: describing the collaboration between STRICTA, CONSORT and the Chinese Cochrane Centre. Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine. 2009; 2: 57-60. [Full text

Prady SL, MacPherson H. Assessing the Utility of the Standards or Reporting Trials of Acupuncture (STRICTA): A Survey of Authors. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2007, 13(9): 939-944.[Abstract]

Prady SL, Richmond SJ, Morton VM, MacPherson H. A Systematic Evaluation of the Impact of STRICTA and CONSORT Recommendations on Quality of Reporting for Acupuncture Trials. PLoS ONE 2008;3(2):e1577 [Full text]

Svenkerud S, MacPherson H. The impact of STRICTA and CONSORT on reporting randomised controlled trials of acupuncture: a systematic methodological evlauation. Acupunct Med 2018;36:349–357. [Open Access]