Integrative Medicine Patients Have High Stress, Pain, and Psychological Symptoms

Ruth Q. Wolever, Nikita S. Goel, Rhonda S. Roberts, Karen Caldwell, Benjamin Kligler, Jeffery A. Dusek, Adam Perlman, Rowena Dolor, Donald I. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Context Integrative medicine (IM) is a rapidly growing field whose providers report clinical success in treating significant stress, chronic pain, and depressive and anxiety symptoms. While IM therapies have demonstrated efficacy for numerous medical conditions, IM for psychological symptoms has been slower to gain recognition in the medical community. Objective and Design This large, cross-sectional study is the first of its kind to document the psychosocial profiles of 4182 patients at 9 IM clinics that form the BraveNet Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN). Results IM patients reported higher levels of perceived stress, pain, and depressive symptoms, and lower levels of quality of life compared with national norms. Per provider reports, 60% of patients had at least one of the following: stress (9.3%), fatigue (10.2%), anxiety (7.7%), depression (7.2%), and/or sleep disorders (4.8%). Pain, having both physiological and psychological components, was also included and is the most common condition treated at IM clinics. Those with high stress, psychological conditions, and pain were most frequently treated with acupuncture, IM physician consultation, exercise, chiropractic services, diet/nutrition counseling, and massage. Conclusion With baseline information on clinical presentation and service utilization, future PBRN studies can examine promising interventions delivered at the clinic to treat stress and psychological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-303
Number of pages8
JournalExplore: The Journal of Science and Healing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Integrative medicine
  • PBRN
  • pain
  • psychological disorders
  • stress


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