In an effort to better serve our Palliative Care (PC) patients, our program sought to expand our PC volunteer base to include complementary therapy (CT) practitioners, specifically massage therapy, acupuncture, and Reiki. These evidence based modalities were selected due to their potential benefits for symptoms commonly experienced by PC patients as well as their minimal associated risks. Complementary therapies are not readily accessible to patients in the hospital, nor in the outpatient setting for many patients with limited resources. Our aim was to provide these modalities to patients on our consult service who might benefit with no additional cost to them.

This poster will review the challenges that were met designing and implementing this program at an academic medical hospital with both adult and pediatric populations. Barriers ranged from navigating endorsement with risk management and legal services to obtaining approval for purchasing supplies like acupuncture needles. Operationalizing this program was an interprofessional collaboration between Palliative Care, Therapeutic Services and Volunteer Services.

Our PC team currently utilizes 2 acupuncturists, 2 massage therapists, and 3 Reiki masters, all of whom donate their time to provide these modalities to appropriate PC patients. To date, our CT volunteers have visited 114 patients throughout their hospital stay and are often requested again during subsequent hospitalizations. Patients, families, and staff have expressed their satisfaction and gratitude for these services. The providers on the PC team value highly these services as they allow our clinicians to expand treatment options for their patients. We are starting a quality improvement project to formally measure the outcomes of this program and the modalities it provides. Additionally, our program is currently developing a pilot to train a select group of nurses in battlefield acupuncture protocol for pain with the intent of them becoming certified in this technique.

This poster will expand upon the following aspects of our program:

  • Program development including the steps taken to garner institutional support and create necessary policies and guidelines.
  • Program implementation, including program barriers and the process by which patient visits are determined, carried out and documented.
  • Review of QI data using the ESAS tool on a sample of PC patients receiving these modalities.


Jessica L. Bullington, BSN, RN, CHPN
Medical University of South Carolina
169 Ashley Avenue, MH 224 U1, MSC 351
Charleston, SC 29485
(843) 792-2649