The Science Behind Integrative Health

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UH Clinical Update | July 2019

Meet Jeffery A. Dusek, PhD, Director of Research, UH Connor Integrative Health Network 

When integrative health is offered within an academic medical center, as the UH Connor Integrative Health Network (CIHN) is at UH, understanding the data and science behind its treatments and therapies is crucial.

As Francoise Adan, MD, Medical Director of CIHN, says, “While we have hundreds of outstanding patient testimonials from the past several years, those don’t gain you reimbursement, or credibility with doubting physicians.”

That is why Jeffery A. Dusek, PhD, became the Director of Research at CIHN in late 2018. His credentials include being a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School for the first decade of his career, where he studied the relaxation response made famous there by Herbert Benson. For the next 10 years, he directed research at the well-known Penny George Institute for Health and Healing in Minnesota and was the Principal Investigator (PI) of a large National Institute of Health (NIH)-funded study of integrative therapies for inpatients.

Dr. Dusek also is the PI of BraveNet’s PRIMIER study, which includes about 5,000 patients enrolled from 17 leading integrative health clinics across the country. CIHN is the newest member of BraveNet, and many of its patients will become part of new BraveNet studies starting this fall.

At CIHN, Dr. Dusek has already overseen a pilot study of the use of acupuncture at the UH Broadview Heights Health Center’s ER. Patients readily accepted a referral for adjunctive acupuncture and reported less pain after acupuncture. Dusek is using positive results of that pilot as part of a multi-year grant request to the NIH. If funded, that study would study the use of acupuncture in ER settings for pain reduction and perhaps the avoidance of opioids being given, at least in some cases, says Dr. Dusek.

“While opioids are an important tool for pain reduction, they aren’t always necessary or clinically appropriate,” he says.  “The notion is that acupuncture could be part of an overall evidence-based plan of care that is patient-centered.”

Another component of Dr. Dusek’s research will be quantifying the results of patient treatment received at CIHN clinics. These therapies include acupuncture, chiropractic care, medical massage and physician consults. While in recent years data was collected in the form of surveys that asked patients to report their level of satisfaction, patients are now asked to rate their pain before and after each treatment session.  Dr. Dusek and his team will be able to quantify any immediate effect of the treatments and also explore the longer term effect as they will follow a patient’s treatment results over several treatment sessions.

The third major component of his research will be in the area of music therapy. In 2018, CIHN provided 12,000 inpatient sessions of music therapy at ten UH locations, provided by nine full-time equivalent music therapists.

While the efficacy of music therapy has been studied at various institutions around the country, including at UH, Dr. Dusek says, “the studies have been relatively small with very strict eligibility. Few have studied the effectiveness of music therapy that is provided in the ‘real world.’  And no studies have looked at outcomes across thousands of patients at one of the leaders in the clinical delivery of music therapy.” Also, UH is a clinical leader in music therapy.

Music therapy has been provided for UH patients in psychiatric, general medical/surgical and oncology settings, among many others.

“The emphasis of CIHN research will be on the study of real world use of integrative therapies,” Dr. Dusek says. “And it’s my belief that these data and the resulting scientific publications will serve as a national differentiator for CIHN and UH.”

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