Challenges and Strategies for Implementing Battlefield Acupuncture in the Veterans Administration: A Qualitative Study of Provider Perspectives

Stephanie L. Taylor, Karleen Giannitrapani, Princess E. Ackland, Jesse Holliday, Kavitha P. Reddy, David F. Drake, Daniel G. Federman, Benjamin Kligler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective: Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA) is an auricular needling protocol for pain. More than 1300 Veterans Health Administration (VHA) clinicians have been trained in BFA delivery. However, little is known about how well BFA has been implemented at the VHA. The aim of this research was to identify the challenges providers experience in implementing BFA and to look for any successful strategies used to overcome these challenges. Materials and Methods: Semistructured telephone interviews were conducted from June 2017 to January 2018, using an interview guide informed by the integrated Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services framework to address several implementation domains: knowledge and attitudes about BFA; professional roles and training in BFA; organization of BFA delivery and resources to provide BFA; and implementation challenges and strategies to address challenges. The interviews were analyzed, using a grounded theory-informed approach. This research was conducted at 20 VHA facilities and involved 23 VHA BFA providers nationwide. Results: Nine main implementation themes were identified: (1) providers organizing BFA delivery in various ways; (2) insufficient time to provide BFA to meet patient demand; (3) beliefs and knowledge about BFA; (4) lack of BFA indication guidelines or effectiveness data; (5) self-efficacy; (6) time delay between training and practice; (7) limited access to resources; (8) key role of leadership and administrative buy-in, and (9) written consent an unwarranted documentation burden. Providers offered some possible strategies to address these issues. Conclusions: System- and provider-level challenges can impede BFA implementation. However, several providers discovered strategies to address some challenges that can be used within and outside the VHA, which, in turn, might improve access to this potentially promising pain-management intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-261
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Acupuncture
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Battlefield Acupuncture
  • auricular acupuncture
  • complementary and alternative medicine
  • pain


Dive into the research topics of 'Challenges and Strategies for Implementing Battlefield Acupuncture in the Veterans Administration: A Qualitative Study of Provider Perspectives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this