News Release

UH Connor Integrative Health Network to study acupuncture in the ED with $2+ million grant

Study could lead to reduced utilization of opioids for pain

Grant and Award Announcement

University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center

UH Cleveland Medical Center

image: Three academic medical centers across the country will study acupuncture for pain in the emergency department setting. view more 

Credit: University Hospitals

Jeffery Dusek, PhD, Director of Research at University Hospitals (UH) Connor Integrative Health Network and Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at Case Western Reserve University, and colleagues were recently awarded a 3-year, $2+ million grant from the National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Dusek and M. Diane McKee, MD, MS, Chair of the Department of Family Medicine & Community Health at UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center, will co-lead a multi-center study whereby acupuncture will be utilized in the emergency departments at three academic medical centers across the country, including UH Cleveland Medical Center, Vanderbilt and University of California San Diego, to manage pain and ideally reduce prescription of opioid medications.

The study will leverage the BraveNet Practice Based Research Network, which is a leading group of 15 integrative medicine clinics across the nation. Dr. McKee serves as Director of the Coordinating Center for BraveNet and has collaborated extensively with Dr. Dusek.

Dr. Dusek is experienced in studying acupuncture for pain, having conducted past research on Acupuncture and the Effect of Complementary and Alternative Medicine on Pain Among Inpatients, along with other studies. Dr. McKee recently completed a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) funded study, "Acupuncture Approaches to Decrease Disparities in Outcomes of Pain Treatment," which compared individual and group acupuncture delivered in primary care for chronic musculoskeletal pain.

A total of 150 subjects (50 at each of the three sites) will be randomized to either acupuncture or usual care. In addition, emergency department patients and providers at each site will participate in structured interviews to support implementation of a large-scale, multi-site, randomized trial in the future.

"According to published studies, pain accounts for up to 78 percent of emergency department patient visits in the United States," said Dr. Dusek. "University Hospitals made a commitment to evaluate alternative treatments for pain in order to help mitigate the opioid epidemic impacting our communities. Positive results from this study and a future large-scale trial could provide critical evidence to support inclusion of acupuncture in emergency departments across the country. If successful, such an expansion could provide Americans with additional non-pharmacologic methods for robust pain management and ideally reduce patients' opioid use."


About University Hospitals

Founded in 1866, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 18 hospitals, more than 50 health centers and outpatient facilities, and 200 physician offices in 16 counties throughout northern Ohio. The system's flagship academic medical center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, located in Cleveland's University Circle, is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The main campus also includes University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation; University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, a high-volume national referral center for complex cardiovascular procedures; and University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. UH is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research programs in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and urology. UH Cleveland Medical Center is perennially among the highest performers in national ranking surveys, including "America's Best Hospitals" from U.S. News & World Report. UH is also home to Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals - part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development. UH is one of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio with 28,000 physicians and employees. Advancing the Science of Health and the Art of Compassion is UH's vision for benefitting its patients into the future, and the organization's unwavering mission is To Heal. To Teach. To Discover. Follow UH on LinkedIn, Facebook @UniversityHospitals and Twitter @UHhospitals. For more information, visit

About Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University is one of the country's leading private research institutions. Located in Cleveland, we offer a unique combination of forward-thinking educational opportunities in an inspiring cultural setting. Our leading-edge faculty engage in teaching and research in a collaborative, hands-on environment. Our nationally recognized programs include arts and sciences, dental medicine, engineering, law, management, medicine, nursing and social work. About 5,100 undergraduate and 6,700 graduate students comprise our student body. Visit to see how Case Western Reserve thinks beyond the possible.


University Hospitals:
Carly Belsterling

Case Western Reserve University:

Bill Lubinger

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