Implementation of outcome measures in a complementary and alternative medicine clinic: evidence of decreased pain and improved quality of life

J Altern Complement Med. 2004 Jun;10(3):506-13. doi: 10.1089/1075553041323704.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to design and implement a practical data collection system capable of obtaining pain and quality-of-life outcome measures in a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) outpatient clinic and (2) to evaluate changes in patient status over time using these objective measures.

Design: A prospective study was carried out in an outpatient practice based setting. Scannable forms were designed utilizing Cardiff's TELEform system (Cardiff Software, Inc., Vista, CA) for data collection.

Setting/location: This study was conducted at Special Care Holistic Wellness Connection, an urban-based, hospital-affiliated, CAM clinic in Connecticut.

Subjects: Inclusion criteria consisted of: a starting pain level of 2 or more, subjects receiving 3 or more treatments in a specific modality, and a completed SF-12v2 Health Survey (Quality Metric Inc., Lincoln, RI). A total of 94 subjects were evaluated for acupuncture, chiropractic, or naturopathy.

Outcome measures: The Numeric Pain Analogue Scale and SF-12v2 Health Survey were used for subject evaluations and were compared from the first to the last treatments. International Classification of Disease codes were utilized to correlate and track the diagnosis.

Results: An outcome measures data management system was successfully implemented into a CAM outpatient clinical setting. Significant decreases in pain were observed in subjects receiving acupuncture, chiropractic, or naturopathy. In addition, improvements in various subscales of the SF-12v2 Physical and Mental Health categories were observed for each CAM treatment modality studied.

Conclusions: This study established that a practical data collection system could be implemented in a CAM clinic utilizing several treatment modalities. In addition, outcome measures demonstrated both a significant reduction in pain and improvement in quality of life for subjects who utilized acupuncture, chiropractic, or naturopathy treatments.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Connecticut
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys / standards*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Time Factors