Judith M. Schlaeger, PhD, CNM, LAc

  • Assistant Professor

Dr. Judith Schlaeger is a certified nurse midwife, licensed acupuncturist, and Chinese herbalist. She is a pain researcher, interested in developing new assessments and treatments for chronic pain by integrating conventional and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). 

Specifically, Dr. Schlaeger’s research focuses on treatments for vulvodynia, which is characterized by vulvar pain and pain with vaginal penetration. It affects 7 million American women and has no consistently effective treatments. She was recently awarded $2,036,000 National Institutes of Health R01 funding, over 5 years, to study the effect of acupuncture on vulvar pain and painful intercourse in women with vulvodynia. Women suffering from vulvodynia and interested in participating in the study can learn more by contacting Research Specialist, Monya Meinel, directly via email: meinemo@uic.edu or by phone: 312-996-5814. 

Dr. Schlaeger also studies pain modeling and characterization of chronic pain syndromes, including sickle cell disease and angina. She is a member of the UIC Sickle Cell team. Dr. Schlaeger also conducts research for stable angina which affects up to 9 million Americans. Many Americans living with angina continue to experience symptoms after hospital discharge despite receiving guidelines-directed medical therapy. She has developed an acupuncture protocol which will soon be tested in a pilot study for the reduction of symptoms of stable angina. 

Dr. Schlaeger’s integration of TCM and western medicine in women’s health practice and research offers a treatment paradigm that has attracted citations in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including the National Vulvodynia Association in its continuing medical education program, the European Guidelines for the Management of Vulvodynia, and the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease for its policies and guidelines for the treatment of vulvodynia. 

Her dedication to women’s health also includes teaching workshops on the use of acupressure in labor, which provides non-drug options for the reduction of pain, to certified nurse midwives and labor and delivery nurses.

Current Area of Teaching

Dr. Schlaeger teaches Healthcare of Women III, which focuses on gynecological and primary care of women, and Advanced Pathophysiology. She guest lectures on the Philosophy and Principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine for the College of Nursing's Global Health Seminar and the Philosophy of Science course.

Service / Practice

2016- 2018 Chair, Pain and Symptoms Management RIG, Midwest Nursing Research Society

Selected Honors & Awards

• 2018 Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. Washington, D.C. 
• 2018 Visiting Professor. Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Tokyo Ariake University of Medical and Health Sciences, Tokyo, Japan. 
• 2018 Excellence in Teaching Award, American College of Nurse Midwives, Savannah, Georgia. 
• 2018 Joyce Roberts Award for Excellence in Midwifery, American College of Nurse Midwives, Illinois Affiliate, Chicago, Illinois. 
• 2018 New Investigator Award. Midwest Nursing Research Society. Symptom Science Research Interest Group, Cleveland, Ohio. 
• 2015-2017 UIC, Building Interdisciplinary Research through Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) Associate, University of Illinois at Chicago, Center on Women and Gender. 2 years support awarded by the UIC College of Nursing Dean’s Fund. 
• 2015 American College of Nurse Midwives Award for Best Oral Research Presentation, Acupuncture for the Treatment of Vulvodynia. Division on Research. Presentation at the ACNM 59th Annual Meeting.

Selected Publications

Schlaeger, J. M., Xu, N., Mejta, C. L., Park, C., Wilkie, D. J. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Vulvodynia: A Randomized Wait-list Controlled Pilot Study (translated into German; see below). Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2015; 12(4): 1019-1027. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12830 

Schlaeger, J. M., Xu, N., Mejta, C. L., Park, C. G., Wilkie, D. J., & Ots, T. (2015). Acupuncture for the Treatment of Vulvodynia: A Randomized Wait-list Controlled Pilot Study. Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Akupunktur, 58(3), 27. doi: 10.1016/S0415-6412(15)30039-4 

Schlaeger, J. M., Cai, H. Y., Xu, N., Steffen, A. D., Wang, L., Wilkie, D. J. Do Vulvodynia TCM Patterns Differ by Pain Types? Beginning Evidence Supporting the Concept. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2017 May 1. doi: 10.1089/acm.2015.0353. PMID: 28294632 

Schlaeger, J. M., Molokie, R. E., Yao, Y., Suarez, M. L., Golembiewski, J., Wilkie, D. J., & Votta-Velis, E. Management of Sickle Cell Pain Using Pregabalin: A Pilot Study. Pain Management Nursing. 2017 December. doi: 10.1016/j.pmn.2017.07.003 

Molokie, R. E., Montminy, C., Dionisio, C., Farooqui, M. A., Gowhari, M., Yao, Y., Suarez, M. L., Ezenwa, M. O., Schlaeger, J. M., Wang, Z. J., Wilkie, D. J. Opioid Doses and Acute Care Utilization Outcomes for Adults with Sickle Cell Disease: Emergency Department versus Acute Care Center. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2017 Jul 13. pii: S0735-6757(17)30566-1. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2017.07.037. PMID: 2880254 

Ezenwa, M. O., Molokie, R. E., Wang, Z. J., Yao, Y., Suarez, M. L., Pullum, C., Schlaeger, J. M., Fillingim, R. B., Wilkie, D. J. Safety and Utility of Quantitative Sensory Testing among Adults with Sickle Cell Disease: Indicators of Neuropathic Pain? Pain Practice. 2016 Mar;16(3):282-93. doi: 10.1111/papr.12279 

Schlaeger, J. M., Roach, K., Golas, M. Takayama, M. & Wilkie, D. J. Treatment Seeking Behaviors of Persons with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Journal of Holistic Nursing. 2018, June; 36(2):179-191. doi: 10.1177/0898010117693539. PMID: 28506103 

Schlaeger, J. M., Gabzdyl, E. M., Bussell, J. L., Takakura, N., Yajima, H., Takayama, M., Wilkie, D. J. Acupuncture and Acupressure in Labor. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health. 2017 Jan;62(1):12-28. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12545 

Schlaeger, J. M., Stoffel, C. L., Bussell, J. L., Cai, H-Y, Takayama, M., Yajima, H., Takakura, N. Moxibustion for Cephalic Version of Breech Presentation. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health. 2018 June. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12752 

Gabzdyl, E. M., Schlaeger, J. M. Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy: A Critical Clinical Review. The Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing. 2015 Jan/Mar;29(1):41-50. doi: 10.1097/JPN.0000000000000077

Current Research

2017-2022 R01HD091210 NIH/NICHD Role: Schlaeger, J. M. (Principal Investigator), Wilkie, D. J. (Co-I), Steffen, A. D. (Co-I), Kobak, W. (Co-I). Double-blind Phase 2 RCT: Effect of Acupuncture on Patient Vulvodynia Outcomes. $2,036,320 
Aims are to: 1) Examine the effects of acupuncture on vulvar pain and dyspareunia, and sexual function. 2) Describe the duration of the acupuncture treatment effects. 

2016-2018 University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing Internal Research Support 
Program (IRSP) Role: Schlaeger, J. M. (Co-PI), DeVon, H. A. (Co-PI). Feasibility Testing of a Randomized Controlled Trial of Acupuncture to Improve 
Symptoms for Women with Stable Angina (AIMS-A). $20,000 
Aim is to: Determine the feasibility (recruitment, retention, completion, acceptability) of a randomized controlled trial of acupuncture in women with stable angina. 

2016-2017 University of Illinois at Chicago Campus Research Board, Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research Role: Schlaeger, J. M. (Principal Investigator), Wilkie, D. J. (Co-I), Hughes, T. L. (Co-I), Steffen, A. D. (Co-I). Characteristics of Vulvodynia Pain: A Nationwide On-line Survey Pilot Study. $10,000 
Aims are to: 1) Determine the feasibility of using the Internet for recruitment and collection of data from women who have vulvodynia. 2) Determine variation in the sensory elements of vulvodynia pain and then to describe these characteristics which may likely be associated with either nociceptive and/or neuropathic pain, sexual function, physical limitations, and quality of life. 

2015-2017 University of Illinois at Chicago Center for Research on Women and Gender Role: Schlaeger, J. M. (Principal Investigator). Building Interdisciplinary Research through Careers in Women’s Health Associate. $40,000 

2015-2016 University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing Internal Research Support Program (IRSP) Role: Schlaeger, J. M. (Principal Investigator), Wilkie, D. J. (Co-I), Steffen, A. D. (Co-I). Acupuncture for Vulvodynia: A Double-blinded Feasibility Pilot Study. $10,000