Assessing the quality, efficacy, and effectiveness of the current evidence base of active self-care complementary and integrative medicine therapies for the management of chronic pain: a rapid evidence assessment of the literature

Pain Med. 2014 Apr:15 Suppl 1:S9-20. doi: 10.1111/pme.12412.


Objectives: Chronic pain management typically consists of prescription medications or provider-based, behavioral, or interventional procedures that are often ineffective, may be costly, and can be associated with undesirable side effects. Because chronic pain affects the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), patient-centered complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) therapies that acknowledge the patients' roles in their own healing processes have the potential to provide more efficient and comprehensive chronic pain management. Active self-care CIM (ACT-CIM) therapies allow for a more diverse, patient-centered treatment of complex symptoms, promote self-management, and are relatively safe and cost-effective. To date, there are no systematic reviews examining the full range of ACT-CIM used for chronic pain symptom management.

Methods: A systematic review was conducted, using Samueli Institute's Rapid Evidence Assessment of the Literature methodology, to rigorously assess both the quality of the research on ACT-CIM modalities and the evidence for their efficacy and effectiveness in treating chronic pain symptoms. A working group of subject matter experts was also convened to evaluate the overall literature pool and develop recommendations for the use and implementation of these modalities.

Results: Following key database searches, 146 randomized controlled trials were included in the review.

Conclusions: This article provides an introduction and background to the review, summarizes the methodological processes involved, details the initial results, and identifies strengths and weakness of the review. Specific results of the review as well as overall recommendations for moving this field of research forward are detailed throughout the current Pain Medicine supplement.

Keywords: Chronic Pain; Complementary and Integrative Medicine; Rapid Evidence Assessment of the Literature; Self-Care; Systematic Review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Complementary Therapies / trends*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / trends*
  • Humans
  • Integrative Medicine / trends*
  • Pain Management / trends*
  • Self Care / trends*