Context: A movement exists within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) toward incorporating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as an integrative complement to care for veterans. The Integrative Health and Wellness (IHW) Program is a comprehensive CAM clinic offering services such as integrative restoration (iRest) yoga nidra, individual acupuncture, group auricular acupuncture, chair yoga, qigong, and integrative health education.
Objectives: The current study intended to detail the development of the CAM program, its use, and the characteristics of the program's participants.
Design: Using a prospective cohort design, this pilot study tracked service use and aspects of physical and mental health for veterans enrolled in the program.
Participants: During the first year, the IHW Program received 740 consults from hospital clinics; 325 veterans enrolled in the program; and 226 veterans consented to participate in the pilot study.
Outcome measures: Outcome measures included data from self-report questionnaires and electronic medical records.
Results: Veterans enrolled in the program reported clinically significant depression, stress, insomnia, and pain-related interference in daily activities and deficits in health-related quality of life. Regarding use of the program services, individual acupuncture showed the greatest participation by veterans, followed by group auricular acupuncture and iRest yoga nidra. Of the 226 veterans who enrolled in the program and consented to participate in this study, 165 (73.01%) participated in >1 services in the first year of programming. Broadly speaking, enrollment in services appeared to be associated with gender and service branch but not with age or symptom severity.
Conclusions: Results have assisted with a strategic planning process for the IHW Program and have implications for expansion of CAM services within the VHA.