A novel integrative healing services approach for neurosurgery inpatients: Preliminary experiences and cost calculations

Interdiscip Neurosurg. 2018 Sep;13:124-128. doi: 10.1016/j.inat.2018.04.012. Epub 2018 Apr 28.


Background: Neurosurgery inpatients are oftentimes critically ill, and face significant stress, post-operative pain, and/or emotional distress. As a result, the use of non-pharmacologic, alternative therapies as adjuncts in surgical care may benefit this patient population. Hospital economics related to integrative services may also provide additional incentive to providing alternative therapies. This study characterizes and evaluates how Integrative Healing Services (IHS) affects patient pain levels and length of stay. We also performed a literature review to examine national trends in inpatient integrative healing.

Methods: An IHS team (e.g. acupuncture, healing touch, music therapy, pet therapy, and counseling) was incorporated into the treatment regimen of neurosurgery inpatients (with >4days of stay) with chronic or intractable pain, stress or depression, and/or patients intolerant to or who failed physical or occupational therapy.

Results: 34 charts were retrospectively reviewed, with 17 patients receiving IHS (11 cranial and 6 spine cases), and 17 age and gender matched controls receiving routine care (11 cranial and 6 spine patients). Overall, 71% (12/17) of patients had a reduction in pain medication consumption, with 55% (6/11) of cranial and 100% (6/6) of spine patients reporting a reduction compared to baseline. The average pre-treatment pain-scale score was 5.5 out of 10 across all patients, while the average post-treatment pain-scale score was 3 out of 10 (p<0.01). 59% of patients had improved mobility. The average length of stay in the IHS group was 12.6days, and 19.6days in the routine care group (range 4-45) (p<0.01).

Conclusions: IHS intervention may be an effective option for treating pain and decreasing hospital length of stay. National trends support the use of integrative healing and will likely continue to increase as further studies are performed.

Keywords: Clinical outcomes; Healing touch; Neurosurgery; Socioeconomic; Therapy.