Background: Veterans Affairs is dedicated to providing a Whole Health approach to care, including offering complementary and integrative health (CIH) approaches to Veterans.
Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the association of CIH participation with Veterans' patient-reported outcomes over time.
Research design: A survey of patient-reported outcomes at 5 timepoints: baseline, 2, 4, 6, and 12 months.
Subjects: Veterans participating in any type of CIH approach at 2 Veterans Affairs medical centers.
Measures: Mixed hierarchical models with repeated variables were used to test the hypothesis that participating in any CIH approach would be associated with Veterans' overall physical/mental health [Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System 28 (PROMIS 28)], pain intensity, perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale-4), and engagement in their care (Patient Activation Measure-13), controlling for age, male sex, site, participation in other CIH approaches, and surveys completed.
Results: We received 401 surveys from 119 Veterans (72% male, age range: 29-85 y) across all timepoints. Yoga participation was related to decreases in perceived stress (P<0.001), while tai chi participation was associated with improvements in overall PROMIS 28 physical and mental health functioning (P<0.02). Specific types of CIH were associated with significant improvements in PROMIS 28 subscales: meditation participation with physical functioning at 2, 6, and 12 months; tai chi participation with anxiety at 2 and 6 months, and ability to participate in social role activities at 2 months. No CIH approach was associated with Veterans' pain or engagement in their care.
Conclusion: As specific CIH approaches are associated with improvements in patient-reported outcomes, clinicians, Veterans, and family members may use this information in discussions of nonpharmacological options to address health and well-being.