A new online resource, designed to give health care providers easy access to evidence-based information on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) was recently unveiled by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health.
With this new resource, providers will have the tools necessary to learn about the various CAM practices and products and be better able to discuss the safety and effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine with their patients.
The portal on the NCCAM website at nccam.nih.gov is tailored to fit the needs of all health care providers, including physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners, physician assistants and CAM providers. It includes information on the safety and efficacy of a range of common health practices that lie outside of mainstream medicine—natural products, such as dietary supplements, herbs and probiotics, as well as mind-body practices, such as meditation, chiropractic, acupuncture and massage.
This resource was developed based on a series of NCCAM-sponsored focus groups where health care providers identified the need for an evidence-based, one-stop place to help answer their patients’ questions on CAM. With this need in mind, NCCAM developed a resource that provides reliable, objective, and evidenced-based information on CAM, including:
- Links to relevant clinical practice guidelines
- Safety and effectiveness information
- Links to systematic reviews
- Summaries of research studies
- Scientific literature searches
- Programs for continuing education credit
- Patient fact sheets
- NCCAM’s Time to Talk tool kit on communicating about CAM.
Americans annually spend nearly $34 billion out-of-pocket on CAM products and practices. Surveys show that nearly 40 percent of American adults and 12 percent of American children use some form of CAM. Other surveys show that patients do not regularly discuss these practices with their health care providers. In fact, a recent study of Americans aged 50 and older found that overall two-thirds of respondents had not discussed CAM with their health care provider.
“NCCAM is charged to study and provide evidence-based information on the safety and efficacy of CAM health practices that are readily available and already used by a great number of people,” said Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., director of NCCAM. “As a physician, I understand the need to have easily accessible and accurate information on all health practices. This Web resource is a way for NCCAM to share this valuable information with all providers.”
To use this resource, visit nccam.nih.gov/health/providers/.
NCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign encourages patients to tell their providers about CAM use and providers to ask about it by offering tools and resources—such as wallet cards, posters and tip sheets—all of which are available for free at nccam.nih.gov/timetotalk/.
The mission of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) interventions and their roles in improving health and health care.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH)—the nation’s medical research agency—includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information, visit www.nih.gov.