Researchers receive $2+ million grant to study acupuncture in emergency departments

Jeffery Dusek, PhD, Director of Research at University Hospitals (UH) Connor Integrative Health Network and Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at Case Western Reserve University, and colleagues were recently awarded a 3-year, $2+ million grant from the National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Dusek and M. Diane McKee, MD, MS, Chair of the Department of Family Medicine & Community Health at UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center, will co-lead a multi-center study whereby acupuncture will be utilized in the emergency departments at three academic medical centers across the country, including UH Cleveland Medical Center, Vanderbilt and University of California San Diego, to manage pain and ideally reduce prescription of opioid medications.

The study will leverage the BraveNet Practice Based Research Network, which is a leading group of 15 integrative medicine clinics across the nation. Dr. McKee serves as Director of the Coordinating Center for BraveNet and has collaborated extensively with Dr. Dusek.

Dr. Dusek is experienced in studying acupuncture for pain, having conducted past research on Acupuncture and the Effect of Complementary and Alternative Medicine on Pain Among Inpatients, along with other studies. Dr. McKee recently completed a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) funded study, “Acupuncture Approaches to Decrease Disparities in Outcomes of Pain Treatment,” which compared individual and group acupuncture delivered in primary care for chronic musculoskeletal pain.

A total of 150 subjects (50 at each of the three sites) will be randomized to either acupuncture or usual care. In addition, emergency department patients and providers at each site will participate in structured interviews to support implementation of a large-scale, multi-site, randomized trial in the future.

According to published studies, pain accounts for up to 78 percent of emergency department patient visits in the United States. University Hospitals made a commitment to evaluate alternative treatments for pain in order to help mitigate the opioid epidemic impacting our communities. Positive results from this study and a future large-scale trial could provide critical evidence to support inclusion of acupuncture in emergency departments across the country. If successful, such an expansion could provide Americans with additional non-pharmacologic methods for robust pain management and ideally reduce patients’ opioid use.”

Dr. Jeffery Dusek, Director of Research at University Hospitals (UH) Connor Integrative Health Network

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