Supporting Research in Pain Management for Veterans and Military Service Members
Supporting Research in Pain Management for Veterans and Military Service Members

Effectiveness Research on Mind and Body Interventions

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

February 2015

Executive Summary

The National Advisory Council on Complementary and Integrative Health (NACCIH) convened a working group to advise the full Council on the potential for development of a large-scale initiative to examine the effectiveness of mind and body practices in military and Veterans’ health care settings. The working group was also asked to provide advice on strategies for collaboration with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health systems and on implementation of any proposed initiatives.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), formerly the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), has used a phased approach over the past several years to promote research on complementary and integrative practices for pain and symptom management in military and Veteran populations. In cooperation with other agencies, NCCIH published several funding opportunity announcements in 2012–2014 for collaborative activities and relatively small-scale projects.

The working group was convened to discuss potential future initiatives to build on these efforts. The working group chose to focus on chronic pain. Chronic pain is a major societal problem, estimated to affect about 100 million U.S. adults, but it may disproportionately affect those who are serving or have served in the military. Data on the high prevalences of chronic pain and opioid use in the military and Veteran populations are alarming to policymakers. The current interest in the use of integrative approaches serves as an impetus to plan studies now so that widespread implementation of new interventions will benefit from concurrent research on outcomes. Pain research is a priority for NCCIH. About 30 percent of NCCIH’s research budget is devoted to pain research, and the role of the brain in perceiving, modifying, and managing pain is the main emphasis of NCCIH’s intramural research program.

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