An integrative approach to treating chronic pain significantly reduces pain severity while improving mood and quality of life, according to a new study from the Bravewell Practice-Based Research Network (BraveNet) published last month in BioMed Central Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal. Researchers found a reduction in pain severity of more than 20 percent and a drop in pain interference of nearly 30 percent in patients after 24 weeks of integrative care. Significant improvements in mood, stress, quality of life, fatigue, sleep and well-being were also observed.
"Chronic pain is very difficult to treat," said lead researcher Dr. Donald Abrams, a cancer and integrative medicine specialist at the University of California San Francisco Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. "While there have been some therapeutic advances, many patients with chronic pain become resistant to conventional medical treatments or suffer adverse effects from widely used prescription medications with high addictive potential. The results from this study are particularly encouraging as chronic pain is the number one condition for which patients seek care at integrative healthcare clinics."
Chronic pain affects nearly 116 million American adults, with estimated costs tallying up to $635 billion annually. The prospective, observational study tracked patients' measures of pain, quality of life, mood, stress, sleep, fatigue, sense of control, overall well-being, and work productivity in 252 patients at nine different clinical sites.
In keeping with the integrative medicine philosophy of individualized, patient-centered care, no standardized pre-specified clinical intervention for chronic pain was prescribed for all study participants. Instead, practitioners at each of the network sites devised integrative treatment plans for participating chronic pain patients. All BraveNet sites include integrative physicians, acupuncturists, mindfulness instructors, and yoga instructors; some also incorporate massage therapists, manual medicine therapists, fitness/movement specialists, dietician/nutritionists, psychologists, healing touch therapists, and other energy practitioners.
The results of the study were consistent over the 24-week duration of the trial, suggesting the possibility of sustainable effects of the integrative interventions.
The full study is available at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/13/146
BraveNet was established by The Bravewell Collaborative in 2007. The first practice-based research network in integrative medicine, BraveNet is comprised of ten leading centers in integrative medicine, with the Duke Clinical Research Center acting as the coordinating center. More information is available at https://bravenet.dcri.duke.edu.
About The Bravewell Collaborative
Formed in 2002, The Bravewell Collaborative is a community of philanthropists in the United States dedicated to bringing about optimal health and healing for individuals and society. An operating foundation, Bravewell develops and manages strategic initiatives that support integrative approaches to healthcare. Embracing rigorous research and scientific approaches in the entirety of its work, The Bravewell Collaborative's key initiatives include programs to educate the general public, change the way physicians are educated, develop leading clinical centers as models for change, acknowledge and support leaders in the field, and promote translational and outcomes-based research. Most recently, The Bravewell Collaborative established the first practice-based research network in integrative medicine and worked with the Institute of Medicine at the National Academies of Science to produce a National Summit on Integrative Medicine. For more information about The Bravewell Collaborative, please visit http://www.bravewell.org.
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine