Thanks to a directive in CARA (2016), the Veterans Administration radically changed its approach to health care and is piloting the Whole Health Initiative in 18 sites.
In April 2021, the Veterans Administration released initial findings from this pilot showing an increase in Whole Health services to Veterans by 193%.
The Whole Health approach to care features conventional clinical care (such as pharmacy, medical care, or counseling) and complementary and integrative care (such as acupuncture or yoga) working together as part of an overall treatment plan.
Veterans who used Whole Health services to manage their chronic pain used opioid medications three times less compared to those who did not, and the pain outcome measures improved. Those who used Whole Health services reported being able to manage stress better and noted the care they received as being more patient centered. These results indicate improvements in Veterans’ overall well-being.
AACIPM Call to Action: Familiarize yourself with these results from the VA program and share with others. AACIPM included this information in a 2020 focus group with employers. Also, forthcoming in 2021, AACIPM is partnering with the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and Duke Department of Orthopaedic Surgery to help disseminate work informed by findings from their Roundtable on Integrated Pain Management, including four case studies of successful integrated pain management programs and more. This information provides practical evidence to share with policy makers and legislators when educating decision makers about the value of integrative pain management systems.