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Report highlights how integrative medicine is used in the U.S.

A just-released Bravewell Collaborative survey involving 29 integrative medicine centers, including Stanford, is shedding light on how this type of medicine is being practiced in the U.S. Among the findings in the report (.pdf): Chronic pain, gastrointestinal problems, depression, stress and cancer are the conditions for which complementary interventions appear most effective; and food/nutrition, supplements, yoga, medication and TCM/acupuncture are the therapies most frequently provided by the centers surveyed.

Noting that the 29 centers see a total of 19,200 unique patients per month and that nine centers have more than half of their patients referred from within their own healthcare system, the authors concluded:

The number of centers included in this study who expressed to the authors that their patient numbers were growing, and/or their roles in their respective healthcare systems were expanding, suggests an increasing acceptance of integrative medicine by the American public and the medical professions.

David Spiegel, MD, director of the Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine, agrees with this assessment, telling me recently that there is less conflict within mainstream medicine than there was when the clinic opened in 1998. "Physicians are listening to their patients and are much less opposed to integrative therapies - they're more open as long as they feel it complements, and doesn’t interfere with, conventional treatments," he explained. He said the field has also been benefited from "more scientific evidence that these treatments help," noting that he and many of the other practitioners in his clinic also do research.

Spiegel said that at Stanford, pain is one of the conditions for which patients most often come to the clinic, and between one-third and one-half of visits are from cancer patients. Acupuncture is the treatment most commonly provided.

Previously: More patients turning to hypnosis to help ease symptoms, Older adults increasingly turning to complementary medicine and Americans’ use of complementary medicine on the rise
Photo by Lars Plougmann

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