Public Report Briefing: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States

Audio coverage of the policy report by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use by the American Public will be available through a live audio webcast that will begin at 11:00 am EDT on January 12th.

According to the IOM website:

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"Millions of Americans use complementary and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and dietary supplements -- often in conjunction with conventional medical treatments. COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IN THE UNITED STATES looks at what patients and health care providers need to know about both conventional treatments and complementary and alternative therapies to make the best decisions about their use. The report examines issues of safety, effectiveness, and regulatory oversight, as well as the impact of new therapies on the evolution of health care.

The link to the webcast will be available from http://national-academies.org. Listeners may submit questions using an e-mail form also available at http://national-academies.org."

The IOM study committee was convened to explore scientific, policy and practice questions that arise from the significant and increasing use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies by the American public. Specifically, the study's mandate has been to:

- Describe the use of CAM therapies by the American public, providing a comprehensive overview, to the extent data are available, of the therapies in wide-spread use, the populations that use them, and what is known about how they are provided.

- Identify major scientific, policy and practice issues related to CAM research, and the translation of validated therapies into conventional practice.

- Develop conceptual models or frameworks to guide public and private sector decision-making as research and practice communities confront the challenges of conducting research on CAM, translating research findings into practice and addressing the distinct policy and practice barriers inherent in that translation.

In its deliberations, the committee also was charged to address the following topics:

- Study the methodological difficulties in the conduct of rigorous research on CAM therapies and how these relate to issues in regulation and practice, with exploration of options to address the identified difficulties;

- The shortage of highly skilled practitioners who are able to participate in scientific inquiry that meets NIH guidelines, and who have access to institutions where such research is conducted;

- The shortage of receptive, integrated research environments and the barriers to developing multi-disciplinary teams that include CAM and conventional practitioners;

- The availability of standardized and well-characterized materials and practices to be studied and incorporated, when appropriate, into practice;

- Existing decision-making models used to determine whether or not to incorporate new therapies and practices into conventional medicine, including evidence thresholds;

- Applicability of these decision-making models to CAM therapies and practices (do they form good precedents for decisions relating to regulation, accreditation, or integration of CAM therapies?);

- Identification and analysis of successful approaches to incorporation of CAM into health professions' education;

- Impact of current regulation/legislation on CAM research and integration.

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Details of the full report will be available through the Institute of Medicine website.