Portrait of a smiling senior in hospital

A new study looked at the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)—specifically, acupuncture, aromatherapy, art therapy, guided imagery, healthy food, humor therapy, massage therapy, music therapy, pet therapy, reiki and stress management—among U.S. hospital inpatients.

The study of attitudes toward CAM therapies took place in the University of California, San Diego, Healthcare System, with 100 patients participating. Both male and female subjects were enrolled in the study, with ages ranging from 19 to 95.

Most Helpful CAM Therapies

“Inpatients were asked which CAM therapies they perceived as being potentially the most helpful, their willingness to pay for those therapies, and their perceived beliefs regarding the use of those therapies,” stated an article titled “Inpatients’ Preferences, Beliefs, and Stated Willingness to Pay for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments,” published in January in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Results showed that hospital inpatients view healthy food (85 percent), massage therapy (82 percent) and humor therapy (70 percent) to be the most helpful. The therapies the patients said they are most willing to pay for, according to the article, are healthy food (71 percent), massage therapy (70 percent) and stress management (48 percent).

Doctor holding patient's hand in hospital room for CAM therapiesBenefits of CAM Therapies

When asked about the benefits they thought they would receive from CAM treatments and therapies, subjects identified relaxation (88 percent), increased well-being (86 percent) and increased overall satisfaction with their stay in the hospital (85 percent).

“This study suggests that CAM services may be a beneficial addition to hospitals, as demonstrated by inpatients’ interest and stated willingness to pay for these services,” the authors noted.

“These findings may help organizational leaders when making choices regarding the development of CAM services within hospitals, particularly since a significant percentage of inpatients reported that CAM services would increase their overall satisfaction with the hospitalization.”

Source: Montross-Thomas, Lori P.; Meier, Emily A.; Reynolds-Norolahi, Kimberly; Raskin, Erin E.; Slater, Daniel; Mills, Paul J.; MacElhern, Lauray; and Kallenberg, Gene. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. January 2017. doi:10.1089/acm.2016.0288.

Karen Menehan Dec 2016About the Author

Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor in chief. Her articles for MASSAGE Magazine include “Body Image: Massage Creates Healthy Self-Connection,” “Massage Therapist Appointed to NCCIH Advisory Council” and “Can Massage Help with our $411 Billion Sleep Problem?”