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Integrative Medicine Can Relieve Pain, Anxiety for Cancer Inpatients


Researchers at The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing found that integrative medicine therapies can substantially decrease pain and anxiety for hospitalized cancer patients. Their findings are published in the current issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monograph, reported Science Daily.

“Following Integrative medicine interventions, such as medical massage, acupuncture, guided imagery or relaxation response intervention, cancer patients experienced a reduction in pain by an average of 47 percent and anxiety by 56 percent,” said Jill Johnson, PhD, MPH, lead author and senior scientific advisor, Penny George Institute.

“The size of these reductions is clinically important, because theoretically, these therapies can be as effective as medications, which is the next step of our research,” said Jeffery Dusek, PhD, senior author and research director, Penny George Institute.

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The Penny George Institute receives funding from the National Center of Alternative and Complementary Medicine of the National Institutes of Health to study the impact of integrative therapies on pain over many hours as well as over the course of a patient’s entire hospital stay, reported Science Daily.

“The overall goal of this research is to determine how integrative services can be used with or instead of narcotic medications to control pain,” said Dr. Johnson. Researchers looked at electronic medical records from admissions at Abbott Northwestern Hospital between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012. From more than 10,000 admissions, researchers identified 1,833 in which cancer patients received integrative medicine services.

Science Daily reported that patients were asked to report their pain and anxiety before and just after the integrative medicine intervention, which averaged 30 minutes in duration. Patients being treated for lung, bronchus, and trachea cancers showed the largest percentage decrease in pain (51 percent), and patients with prostate cancer reported the largest percentage decrease in anxiety (64 percent), according to the news report.

For more information, visit www.sciencedaily.com or www.jncimono.oxfordjournals.org.