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Papers of the Week

Papers: 13 May 2023 - 19 May 2023

Clinical, Integrative/Complementary

Human Studies, Neurobiology

Neuropathic Pain

2023 May 15

J Integr Complement Med


Developing an Implementation Blueprint for the NIH HEAL Initiative GRACE Trial: Perspectives on Acupuncture and Guided Relaxation for Chronic Sickle Cell Disease Pain.


Knisely MR, Rivera E, deMartelly VA, Abdulkadir A, Doorenbos AZ, Ezenwa MO, Molokie RE, Li H, Shah N, Schlaeger JM, Patil CL


This study aimed to explore perspectives of people living with sickle cell disease (SCD) and SCD clinic providers and staff about the use of acupuncture and guided relaxation for treating chronic SCD pain. Data obtained were to inform an implementation blueprint for an effectiveness implementation clinical trial (GRACE Trial) testing whether acupuncture or guided relaxation reduces chronic pain when compared with usual care. Qualitative research design. We conducted 33 semistructured interviews with people with SCD and SCD clinic providers and staff. Interviews were transcribed and coded. A deductive content analysis process was used to identify themes. Four themes were identified: Receptivity to Acupuncture and Guided Relaxation, Limited Awareness, Complementary and Integrative Health (CIH) Therapy Preference, and Access Barriers. Both patients and clinic providers and staff were open to the use of acupuncture and guided relaxation for chronic pain treatment. After learning about these CIH therapies, some patients expressed a preference for one therapy over the other. They also discussed their ability to successfully engage with each therapy. There is a need to dispel misconceptions about the therapies by increasing understanding of how each therapy is implemented and functions to reduce pain. We identified several potential barriers that might affect the success of the trial and future health system integration, including time, transportation, and technology. This study is one of the first to present perspectives of both patients with SCD and clinic providers and staff on the use of acupuncture and guided relaxation for chronic SCD pain. Stakeholders’ early input and perspectives highlighted that they welcome nonpharmacological CIH therapies. Implementation of a clinical trial and future health system integration will require the addressing misinformation and identifying strategies to overcome access barriers. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04906447.