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Integrative Therapies Mitigate Pain and Anxiety in Allina Health Study

March 20, 2015

According to physicians at Allina Health in Minneapolis, Minnesota, therapies such as medical massages and acupuncture ease anxiety and pain among cancer patients. This optimizes the outlook for minimizing the harmful side effects of prescription drugs that are commonly administered in the United States.

The quantitative results of a research study conducted from 2009 to 2012 and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs presents a 47 percent self-reported reduction in pain and a 56 percent reduction in anxiety before and after integrative therapy services in 1,800 cancer patients at Allina Health's Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

According to Jeffrey Dusek, research director for the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, alternative therapies have a bright future in being as effective as conventional western biomedical treatment methods such as the potent and addictive narcotics widely used in U.S. medicine. As federal health reform increasingly pays hospitals based on overall patient outcomes, integrative medicine has the potential to reduce the use of costly drugs, both avoiding their side negative side effects and minimizing healthcare costs.

However, Chandler Yorkhall, an integrative medicine practitioner at Abbott, says that reducing drug use isn’t always a helpful goal to suggest to patients because they often “hang on to their [pain] numbers,” inflating their self-reported pain scores after integrative therapies so that their caregivers will not reduce their pain medications. Yorkhall encourages practitioners to instead seek to build trust with each patients and help people relax in ways that aid healing and help the body respond better to medication.

Follow-up research to Dusek’s study is already underway to determine whether the integrative therapies last after the services are provided, and to determine if they do ultimately reduce the total cost of care for patients and hospital.

To read the full article, click here to visit the Star Tribune news website.


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