April 21 2022

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Patients with disabilities and health healthcare professionals felt that the use of integrative and complementary medicine was an acceptable alternative to conventional treatments for managing headaches as reported by researchers in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies.

Teresa Damush

“We discovered that patients suffering from chronic headaches were keen on combining alternative therapies for treatment, like acupuncture yoga, massage, or tai chi with conventional medical treatment and were enthused by the fact that alternative therapies exist other than taking medications for pain,” the study’s senior writer Teresa Damush, PhD, a career research scientist at Regenstrief Institute. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and researcher at the Regenstrief Institute, said in the press release issued by Regenstrief.

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According to the report migraines are a problem for one-in-seven Americans and about 12% of veterans. Additionally, veterans who were in combat or suffer from brain injuries that are traumatic may experience severe headaches that impact their life quality and their ability to perform.

To better understand the different preferences for headache treatment among veterans and health care professionals, Damush and colleagues interviewed 20 veterans as well as 43 health care professionals at twelve Veterans Health Administration Headache Centers of Excellence from January 2019 until March 2020.

After conducting case and thematic studies, researchers concluded that both providers and patients considered it beneficial to incorporate integrative and complementary therapies in headache treatment.

“What we’ve gained from our study that relied on semi-structured interviews to gain insight from the various stakeholders, can be applied to different health care institutions and settings, helping to improve understanding of ways to improve our provide care to patients suffering from chronic headaches,” Damush said. “While health professionals acknowledged they needed to know the evidence-based evidence behind alternative treatments for headaches that are chronic and empowering patients, they also supported the empowerment of patients and often advised patients to express an desire to explore alternative treatments.”

Reference:

Damush TM, et al. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2021;doi:10.1186/s12906-022-03511-6.