Significant Pain Reduction in Hospitalized Patients Receiving Integrative Medicine Interventions by Clinical Population and Accounting for Pain Medication

Background: Prior research has reported that integrative medicine (IM) therapies reduce pain in inpatients, but without controlling for important variables. Here, the authors extend prior research by assessing pain reduction while accounting for each patient’s pain medication status and clinical population. Methods: The initial data set consisted of 7,106 inpatient admissions, aged ≥18 years, between July 16, 2012, and December 15, 2014. Patients’ electronic health records were used to obtain data on demographic, clinical measures, and pain medication status during IM. Results: The final data set included first IM therapies delivered during 3,635 admissions. Unadjusted average pre-IM pain was 5.33 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 5.26 to 5.41) and post-IM pain was 3.31 (95% CI: 3.23 to 3.40) on a 0–10 scale. Pain change adjusted for severity of illness, clinical population, sex, treatment, and pain medication status during IM was significant and clinically meaningful with an average reduction of −1.97 points (95% CI: −2.06 to −1.86) following IM. Adjusted average pain was reduced in all clinical populations, with largest and smallest pain reductions in maternity care (−2.34 points [95% CI: −2.56 to −2.14]) and orthopedic (−1.71 points [95% CI: −1.98 to −1.44]) populations. Pain medication status did not have a statistically significant association on pain change. Decreases were observed regardless of whether patients were taking narcotic medications and/or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs versus no pain medications. Conclusions: For the first time, inpatients receiving IM reported significant and clinically meaningful pain reductions during a first IM session while accounting for pain medications and across clinical populations. Future implementation research should be conducted to optimize identification/referral/delivery of IM therapies within hospitals.

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