Group Battlefield Acupuncture in Primary Care for Veterans with Pain

South Med J. 2018 Oct;111(10):619-624. doi: 10.14423/SMJ.0000000000000877.


Objective: To obtain preliminary data on the short- and intermediate-term effects of battlefield acupuncture (BFA) on self-reported pain intensity in a relatively large cohort of veterans to assess whether a more comprehensive clinical trial evaluation is warranted.

Methods: The treatment, in an outpatient group setting, consisted of up to five auricular semipermanent needles inserted into each ear at prespecified points. Efficacy of treatment was measured by self-reported pain, using the Defense and Veterans Pain Rating Scale, just before treatment and at posttreatment days 0, 1, 7, and 30.

Results: A total of 112 patients attended the group clinics. The mean pretreatment pain score was 6.8, with an immediate postprocedure decrease of 2.4 points. The proportion of patients reporting decreased pain was 88.4%, 80.7%, 52.4%, and 51% at posttreatment days 0, 1, 7, and 30, respectively.

Conclusions: The short- and intermediate-term beneficial effect of BFA on chronic pain is clinically meaningful. The large proportion of patients reporting decreased pain even 30 days after treatment suggests that the long-term effect of BFA merits further investigation.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture, Ear*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Pain / diagnosis
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Medicine*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pilot Projects
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Veterans*