The Department of Veterans Affairs trained primary-care providers to deliver Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA), a subset of auricular acupuncture, to patients. However, little is known about BFA effectiveness in group or individual sessions or repeated administrations versus singular use. The aim of this study was to examine the use and effectiveness of BFA for back pain and four pain-comorbid conditions in group and individual sessions at a large Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center.
Materials and Methods:
This cross-sectional study was conducted at the West Haven VA Medical Center, in West Haven CT. Between October 2016 and December 2017, 284 veterans with pain received BFA. The BFA was administered in group clinics or in individual encounters. The Defense and Veterans Pain Rating Scale was used to assess self-reported pain immediately before and after each BFA administration.
Over the study period, an average of 57 (range: 50–66) new patients per month received BFA. Of 753 total patient encounters, an immediate decrease in self-reported pain occurred in 616 (82.0%) patients, no change occurred in 73 (9.7%) patients, and an increase occurred in 62 (8.3%) patients. Decreases in pain were common in the group and individual settings, even in patients with originally high pain scores, and the effectiveness remained with repeated uses.
BFA can be effective for immediate relief of pain—whether the BFA is administered in a group or individual setting—for the overwhelming majority of veterans and, as such, holds promise as a nonpharmacologic pain-management intervention.
Authors: Daniel Glenn Federman, Steven B. Zeliadt, Eva R. Thomas, Gennaro F. Carbone Jr and Stephanie L. Taylor