Documentation of Complementary and Integrative Health Therapies in the Electronic Health Record: A Scoping Review

Robin R. Austin, Sheng Chieh Lu, Ratchada Jantraporn, Suhyun Park, Elena Geiger-Simpson, Mary Koithan, Mary Jo Kreitzer, Connie W. Delaney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Complementary and integrative health (CIH) therapies refers to massage therapy, acupuncture, aromatherapy, and guided imagery. These therapies have gained increased attention in recent years, particularly for their potential to help manage chronic pain and other conditions. National organizations not only recommend the use of CIH therapies but also the documentation of these therapies within electronic health records (EHRs). Yet, how CIH therapies are documented in the EHR is not well understood. The purpose of this scoping review of the literature was to examine and describe research that focused on CIH therapy clinical documentation in the EHR. Methods: The authors conducted a literature search using six electronic databases: Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Ovid MEDLINE, Scopus, Google Scholar, Embase, and PubMed. Predefined search terms included ‘‘informatics,’’ ‘‘documentation,’’ ‘‘complementary and integrative health therapies,’’ ‘‘non-pharmacological approaches,’’ and ‘‘electronic health records’’ using AND/OR statements. No restrictions were placed on publication date. The inclusion criteria were as follows: (1) Original peer-reviewed full article in English, (2) focus on CIH therapies, and (3) CIH therapy documentation practice used in the research. Results: The authors identified 1684 articles, of which 33 met the criteria for a full review. A majority of the studies were conducted in the United States (20) and hospitals (19). The most common study design was retrospective (9), and 26 studies used EHR data as a data source for analysis. Documentation practices varied widely across all studies, ranging from the feasibility of documenting integrative therapies (i.e., homeopathy) to create changes in the EHR to support documentation (i.e., flowsheet). Discussion: This scoping review identified varying EHR clinical documentation trends for CIH therapies. Pain was the most frequent reason for use of CIH therapies across all included studies and a broad range of CIH therapies were used. Data standards and templates were suggested as informatics methods to support CIH documentation. A systems approach is needed to enhance and support the current technology infrastructure that will enable consistent CIH therapy documentation in EHRs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-491
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


  • complementary and integrative health therapies
  • data standards
  • documentation
  • electronic health records
  • standardized terminologies

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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