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  • Research Suggests Battlefield Acupuncture is Immediate but Short-Term Pain Management Tool
    This commentary summarizes work conducted to examine battlefield acupuncture’s (BFA’s) implementation and effectiveness within the VA healthcare system. Findings show that there is some evidence that BFA is a potentially effective, immediate, but short-term pain management tool that can be used in adjunct with other pain therapies. BFA produced a minimal clinically important improvement in pain for over half of Veterans receiving it, including patients who recently filled opioid prescriptions or had significant psychological and physical comorbidities. Both individual and group BFA sessions were effective. BFA providers perceived BFA as having many benefits; they also reported that it was low risk and easy to deliver. Given its effectiveness in providing immediate, short-term pain relief, from the perspective of both providers and patients, BFA is one potentially important tool to address pain. BFA also may provide a “window” to allow some patients to engage in more long-term self-management approaches (i.e., yoga and Tai Chi) to address their chronic pain.
    Date: March 26, 2021
  • VA/HSR&D Research on Complementary and Integrative Health Therapies within VA
    Funded by HSR&D, this special issue of Medical Care highlights how research on complementary and integrative health (CIH) therapies in the VA healthcare system has progressed along the QUERI (Quality Enhancement Research Initiative) Implementation Roadmap – from pre-implementation to implementation to sustainment. CIH approaches are becoming more available throughout VA, due to: 1) increased implementation of the Whole Health System of Care, which integrates allopathic and CIH care; and 2) development of the infrastructure for CIH implementation, which includes new standards for hiring CIH providers, the involvement of volunteers who teach CIH, and development of policy and guidance for providing CIH at VAMCs, via telehealth, and/or in the community. Conducting pre-implementation, implementation, and sustainment phases of research on CIH approaches in VA is yet another way to boost the scale-up and spread of these therapies to reach as many Veterans as possible.
    Date: September 1, 2020
  • Many VA Patients Use and are Interested in Learning More about Complementary and Integrated Health Options
    In part to guide the expansion of evidence-based complementary and integrative health (CIH), VA leaders sought current information on Veterans’ interest in and use of various CIH approaches, both inside and outside the VA healthcare system. Thus, investigators in this study analyzed survey results from a large sample of Veterans on their interest in, use of, and satisfactions with 26 CIH approaches. Findings showed that in the past year, 52% of Veterans in this study used any CIH approach, with 44% using massage therapy, 37% using chiropractic, 34% using mindfulness, 24% using other meditation, and 25% using yoga. Pain, stress reduction/relaxation, and improving overall health and well-being were the top three reasons for using 9 of the 26 CIH approaches. Overall, 84% of Veterans in this study stated an interest in trying/learning more about at least one CIH approach, with about half being interested in six individual approaches (massage therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology, and progressive relaxation). Veterans appeared to be much more likely to use each CIH approach outside vs. within VA.
    Date: April 22, 2019
  • Women Veterans with Pain More Likely to Use Complementary and Integrative Therapies
    This study sought to examine complementary and integrative health (CIH) therapy use by gender among Veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain, and variations in gender differences by race/ethnicity and age. Findings showed that of Veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain, more women than men used CIH therapies (36% vs. 26%). Black women, regardless of age, were least likely to use CIH therapies compared to other women. Among men, White and Black Veterans were less likely to use CIH therapies, irrespective of age, than men of Hispanic or other race/ethnicities. Among both women and men, CIH therapies were least likely to be used by younger Black or White Veterans. Given the disparities in CIH therapy use, tailoring CIH therapy engagement to gender, race/ethnicity, and age may increase CIH therapy use among Veterans.
    Date: September 1, 2018
  • Complementary and Integrative Medicine Use among Veterans and the Military
    A special supplement to the journal Medical Care: “Building the Evidence Base for Complementary and Integrative Medicine Use among Veterans and Military Personnel,” includes 13 original articles as well as two commentaries that describe efforts within VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) to understand and foster the use of CAM among Veterans and active duty military personnel.
    Date: December 1, 2014
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine Options for Veterans with Chronic Pain
    As part of the “Study of the Effectiveness of a Collaborative Approach to Pain,” investigators surveyed Veterans with chronic (non-cancer) pain about their prior use of, and their willingness to try four complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) treatments: massage, chiropractic care, herbal medicines, and acupuncture. Investigators also examined whether demographic characteristics, VA treatment satisfaction, common pain-related characteristics (i.e., pain intensity, disability, depression), or overall disease burden distinguished CAM users from non-users. Findings showed that 82% of Veterans reported previously trying CAM therapy, and nearly all were willing to try one or more of the four CAM treatment options in the study survey. Chiropractic care was the least preferred CAM therapy, whereas massage was the most preferred option. Compared to Veterans who did not use CAM therapy, CAM users were less likely to have service-connected disabilities, and reported having spent a larger percentage of their lives in pain. Investigators detected few differences between Veterans who had tried CAM therapy and those who had not, suggesting CAM may have broad appeal among Veterans with chronic pain. Moreover, study results did not show differences in treatment satisfaction or pain treatment effectiveness ratings between the two groups. This suggests that Veteran patients with chronic pain may use CAM as an additional tool in pain management, rather than as a reaction to perceived inadequacies of conventional care.
    Date: December 1, 2011
  • Predictors Associated with Use of Complementary/Alternative Medicine in Men with HIV
    This study sought to describe the types, frequency, and intensity of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) use among men living with HIV infection in southern California and northern Florida/southern Georgia, and to identify predictors of CAM use and intensity. Findings show that the majority of men with HIV infection in this study (69%) reported some CAM use. The most frequently cited types of CAM use were drug or dietary supplements (71%) and spiritual therapies (66%). CAM use was almost three times higher in California compared to Florida/Georgia, and was also greater in men who reported depression or more health-promoting behaviors. The odds of CAM use intensity increased with greater symptom frequency and more health-promoting behaviors. In addition, vitamins, dietary supplements, and herbs were used by the majority of men in this study. The authors suggest that high levels of CAM use among men with HIV infection should alert healthcare providers to assess CAM use and to incorporate CAM-related patient education into their clinical practices.
    Date: November 1, 2009

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