Lead/Presenter: Stephanie Taylor, COIN - Los Angeles
All Authors: Taylor SL (VA HSR&D Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation, Implementation and Policy (CSHIIP) ), Hoggatt KJ (VA HSR&D Center Ci2i, Palo Alto), Whitehead AM (Integrative Health Coordinating Center, VA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation) Benjamin K (Integrative Health Coordinating Center, VA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation)
Complementary and integrative health (CIH) approaches (e.g., yoga, mindfulness, acupuncture) are important non-pharmacological approaches to manage pain and mental health issues. As such, the VA's provision of and research on CIH approaches are now mandated in the 2016 Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and are a VA priority. Knowing about patients' interest in, use of and satisfaction with CIH approaches can inform the VA's efforts to implement CIH approaches. Given little is known about this, we conducted the first national survey among Veterans on this topic.
Using the VA's RAPID's Veteran Insights Panel, a national convenience sample of Veterans (n = 3,346) with recent use of the VHA, we conducted an online survey (37% response rate) in July 2017 to determine Veterans' frequency of and reasons for use, satisfaction with, and interest in 26 CIH approaches. For each approach, we provided a simple description.
In the past year, 52% of Veterans used any of 26 CIH approaches, with 44% using massage therapy, 37% using chiropractic, 34% using mindfulness, 24% using other meditation, and 25% using yoga. Pain was the most frequent reason for using CIH approaches and stress reduction was the second. About half reported CIH was helpful for the conditions they used it for. Overall, 84% were interested in trying/learning more about at least one CIH approach, with about half being interested in six individual CIH approaches. The strong majority were unaware of specific CIH therapies being available at the VA.
Veterans' interest in CIH approaches was rather high, given over half were interested in several approaches, and these rates are similar to or slightly higher than those of the general population. Similarly, veterans' satisfaction with CIH approaches were also somewhat high. However, few veterans knew that their VA offered CIH approaches.
Given Veterans' lack of awareness that VA offers CIH approaches they are interested in, additional patient encouragement or education might be needed to increase the frequency of CIH use. Also, a wide variety of providers (e.g., primary care, mental health, pain specialists) should inform their patients about some CIH approaches as potential options to improve their health.