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1.  Linguistic Processing and Classification of Semi Structured Bibliographic Data on Complementary Medicine 
Cancer Informatics  2009;7:159-169.
Complementary and alternative therapies and medicines (CAM) such as acupuncture or mistletoe treatment are much asked for by cancer patients. With a growing interest in such therapies, physicians need a simple tool with which to get an overview of the scientific publications on CAM, particularly those that are not listed in common bibliographic databases like MEDLINE. CAMbase is an XML-based bibliographical database on CAM which serves to address this need. A custom front end search engine performs semantic analysis of textual input enabling users to quickly find information relevant to the search queries. This article describes the technical background and the architecture behind CAMbase, a free online database on CAM ( We give examples on its use, describe the underlying algorithms and present recent statistics for search terms related to complementary therapies in oncology.
PMCID: PMC2730176  PMID: 19718447
cancer; complementary medicine; database; semantic web; literature
2.  Use and Acceptance of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Among the General Population and Medical Personnel: A Systematic Review 
The Ochsner Journal  2012;12(1):45-56.
The interest in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has increased during the past decade and the attitude of the general public is mainly positive, but the debate about the clinical effectiveness of these therapies remains controversial among many medical professionals.
We conducted a systematic search of the existing literature utilizing different databases, including PubMed/Medline, PSYNDEX, and PsycLit, to research the use and acceptance of CAM among the general population and medical personnel. A special focus on CAM-referring literature was set by limiting the PubMed search to “Complementary Medicine” and adding two other search engines: CAMbase ( and CAMRESEARCH ( These engines were used to reveal publications that at the time of the review were not indexed in PubMed.
A total of 16 papers met the scope criteria. Prevalence rates of CAM in each of the included studies were between 5% and 74.8%. We found a higher utilization of homeopathy and acupuncture in German-speaking countries. Excluding any form of spiritual prayer, the data demonstrate that chiropractic manipulation, herbal medicine, massage, and homeopathy were the therapies most commonly used by the general population. We identified sex, age, and education as predictors of CAM utilization: More users were women, middle aged, and more educated. The ailments most often associated with CAM utilization included back pain or pathology, depression, insomnia, severe headache or migraine, and stomach or intestinal illnesses. Medical students were the most critical toward CAM. Compared to students of other professions (ie, nursing students: 44.7%, pharmacy students: 18.2%), medical students reported the least consultation with a CAM practitioner (10%).
The present data demonstrate an increase of CAM usage from 1990 through 2006 in all countries investigated. We found geographical differences, as well as differences between the general population and medical personnel.
PMCID: PMC3307506  PMID: 22438782
Alternative medicine; complementary medicine
3.  A systematic review of how homeopathy is represented in conventional and CAM peer reviewed journals 
Growing popularity of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the public sector is reflected in the scientific community by an increased number of research articles assessing its therapeutic effects. Some suggest that publication biases occur in mainstream medicine, and may also occur in CAM. Homeopathy is one of the most widespread and most controversial forms of CAM. The purpose of this study was to compare the representation of homeopathic clinical trials published in traditional science and CAM journals.
Literature searches were performed using Medline (PubMed), AMED and Embase computer databases. Search terms included "homeo-pathy, -path, and -pathic" and "clinical" and "trial". All articles published in English over the past 10 years were included. Our search yielded 251 articles overall, of which 46 systematically examined the efficacy of homeopathic treatment. We categorized the overall results of each paper as having either "positive" or "negative" outcomes depending upon the reported effects of homeopathy. We also examined and compared 15 meta-analyses and review articles on homeopathy to ensure our collection of clinical trials was reasonably comprehensive. These articles were found by inserting the term "review" instead of "clinical" and "trial".
Forty-six peer-reviewed articles published in a total of 23 different journals were compared (26 in CAM journals and 20 in conventional journals). Of those in conventional journals, 69% reported negative findings compared to only 30% in CAM journals. Very few articles were found to be presented in a "negative" tone, and most were presented using "neutral" or unbiased language.
A considerable difference exists between the number of clinical trials showing positive results published in CAM journals compared with traditional journals. We found only 30% of those articles published in CAM journals presented negative findings, whereas over twice that amount were published in traditional journals. These results suggest a publication bias against homeopathy exists in mainstream journals. Conversely, the same type of publication bias does not appear to exist between review and meta-analysis articles published in the two types of journals.
PMCID: PMC1177924  PMID: 15955254
4.  Searching for Controlled Trials of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Comparison of 15 Databases 
This project aims to assess the utility of bibliographic databases beyond the three major ones (MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane CENTRAL) for finding controlled trials of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Fifteen databases were searched to identify controlled clinical trials (CCTs) of CAM not also indexed in MEDLINE. Searches were conducted in May 2006 using the revised Cochrane highly sensitive search strategy (HSSS) and the PubMed CAM Subset. Yield of CAM trials per 100 records was determined, and databases were compared over a standardized period (2005). The Acudoc2 RCT, Acubriefs, Index to Chiropractic Literature (ICL) and Hom-Inform databases had the highest concentrations of non-MEDLINE records, with more than 100 non-MEDLINE records per 500. Other productive databases had ratios between 500 and 1500 records to 100 non-MEDLINE records—these were AMED, MANTIS, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Global Health and Alt HealthWatch. Five databases were found to be unproductive: AGRICOLA, CAIRSS, Datadiwan, Herb Research Foundation and IBIDS. Acudoc2 RCT yielded 100 CAM trials in the most recent 100 records screened. Acubriefs, AMED, Hom-Inform, MANTIS, PsycINFO and CINAHL had more than 25 CAM trials per 100 records screened. Global Health, ICL and Alt HealthWatch were below 25 in yield. There were 255 non-MEDLINE trials from eight databases in 2005, with only 10% indexed in more than one database. Yield varied greatly between databases; the most productive databases from both sampling methods were Acubriefs, Acudoc2 RCT, AMED and CINAHL. Low overlap between databases indicates comprehensive CAM literature searches will require multiple databases.
PMCID: PMC3137728  PMID: 19468052
5.  How to locate and appraise qualitative research in complementary and alternative medicine 
The aim of this publication is to present a case study of how to locate and appraise qualitative studies for the conduct of a meta-ethnography in the field of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM is commonly associated with individualized medicine. However, one established scientific approach to the individual, qualitative research, thus far has been explicitly used very rarely. This article demonstrates a case example of how qualitative research in the field of CAM studies was identified and critically appraised.
Several search terms and techniques were tested for the identification and appraisal of qualitative CAM research in the conduct of a meta-ethnography. Sixty-seven electronic databases were searched for the identification of qualitative CAM trials, including CAM databases, nursing, nutrition, psychological, social, medical databases, the Cochrane Library and DIMDI.
9578 citations were screened, 223 articles met the pre-specified inclusion criteria, 63 full text publications were reviewed, 38 articles were appraised qualitatively and 30 articles were included. The search began with PubMed, yielding 87% of the included publications of all databases with few additional relevant findings in the specific databases. CINHAL and DIMDI also revealed a high number of precise hits. Although CAMbase and CAM-QUEST® focus on CAM research only, almost no hits of qualitative trials were found there. Searching with broad text terms was the most effective search strategy in all databases.
This publication presents a case study on how to locate and appraise qualitative studies in the field of CAM. The example shows that the literature search for qualitative studies in the field of CAM is most effective when the search is begun in PubMed followed by CINHAL or DIMDI using broad text terms. Exclusive CAM databases delivered no additional findings to locate qualitative CAM studies.
PMCID: PMC3778880  PMID: 23731997
CAM; Qualitative studies; Meta-Ethnography; Quality appraisal
6.  Randomized controlled trials in pediatric complementary and alternative medicine: Where can they be found? 
BMC Pediatrics  2003;3:1.
The safety and effectiveness of CAM interventions are of great relevance to pediatric health care providers. The objective of this study is to identify sources of reported randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the field of pediatric complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
Reports of RCTs were identified by searching Medline and 12 additional bibliographic databases and by reviewing the reference lists of previously identified pediatric CAM systematic reviews.
We identified 908 reports of RCTs that included children under 18 and investigated a CAM therapy. Since 1965, there has been a steady growth in the number of these trials that are being published. The four journals that published the most reported RCTs are The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Pediatrics, Journal of Pediatrics, and Lancet. Medline, CAB Health, and Embase were the best database sources for identifying these studies; they indexed 93.2%, 58.4% and 42.2 % respectively of the journals publishing reports of pediatric CAM RCTs.
Those working or interested in the field of pediatric CAM should routinely search Medline, CAB Health and Embase for literature in the field. The four core journals identified above should be included in their collection.
PMCID: PMC151673  PMID: 12589711
alternative medicine; bibliometrics; information services; medical informatics applications; pediatrics, evidence-based medicine
7.  The use of complementary and alternative medicine by people with cardiovascular disease: a systematic review 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:299.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) may offer benefits as well as risks to people with cardiovascular disease. Understanding the prevalence and the nature of CAM use will encourage beneficial CAM therapies, prevent potential herb-drug interactions and foster communication between patients and physicians.
A systematic search of eight bibliographic databases was conducted for studies that investigated CAM use in patients with cardiovascular diseases. Two independent reviewers selected relevant abstracts and evaluated the quality of included studies.
Twenty-seven studies were included. Prevalence of CAM use in cardiac patients ranged from 4% - 61%. Biologically-based therapies usage ranged from 22% to 68%. Herbal medicines were used by between 2% and 46%. A large proportion of patients did not inform medical practitioners about their CAM use and up to 90% of treating physicians did not discuss CAM use with their patients.
CAM use in patients with cardiovascular disease appears common. The findings suggest that the effects of CAM on medical management of cardiovascular disease may be overlooked and that patient-physician communication need to be strengthened.
PMCID: PMC3444368  PMID: 22536991
8.  Is complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) cost-effective? a systematic review 
Out-of-pocket expenditures of over $34 billion per year in the US are an apparent testament to a widely held belief that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies have benefits that outweigh their costs. However, regardless of public opinion, there is often little more than anecdotal evidence on the health and economic implications of CAM therapies. The objectives of this study are to present an overview of economic evaluation and to expand upon a previous review to examine the current scope and quality of CAM economic evaluations.
The data sources used were Medline, AMED, Alt-HealthWatch, and the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Citation Index; January 1999 to October 2004. Papers that reported original data on specific CAM therapies from any form of standard economic analysis were included. Full economic evaluations were subjected to two types of quality review. The first was a 35-item checklist for reporting quality, and the second was a set of four criteria for study quality (randomization, prospective collection of economic data, comparison to usual care, and no blinding).
A total of 56 economic evaluations (39 full evaluations) of CAM were found covering a range of therapies applied to a variety of conditions. The reporting quality of the full evaluations was poor for certain items, but was comparable to the quality found by systematic reviews of economic evaluations in conventional medicine. Regarding study quality, 14 (36%) studies were found to meet all four criteria. These exemplary studies indicate CAM therapies that may be considered cost-effective compared to usual care for various conditions: acupuncture for migraine, manual therapy for neck pain, spa therapy for Parkinson's, self-administered stress management for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, pre- and post-operative oral nutritional supplementation for lower gastrointestinal tract surgery, biofeedback for patients with "functional" disorders (eg, irritable bowel syndrome), and guided imagery, relaxation therapy, and potassium-rich diet for cardiac patients.
Whereas the number and quality of economic evaluations of CAM have increased in recent years and more CAM therapies have been shown to be of good value, the majority of CAM therapies still remain to be evaluated.
PMCID: PMC1182346  PMID: 15932647
9.  Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease: An Evidence-Based Review 
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) plays a significant role in many aspects of healthcare worldwide, including cardiovascular disease (CVD). This review describes some of the challenges of CAM in terms of scientific research. Biologically-based therapies, mind-body therapies, manipulative and body-based therapies, whole medical systems, and energy medicine are reviewed in detail with regard to cardiovascular risk factors and mediation or modulation of cardiovascular disease pathogenesis. CAM use among patients with CVD is prevalent and in many instances provides positive and significant effects, with biologically-based and mind-body therapies being the most commonly used treatment modalities. More rigorous research to determine the precise physiologic effects and long-term benefits on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality with CAM usage, as well as more open lines of communication between patients and physicians regarding CAM use, is essential when determining optimal treatment plans.
PMCID: PMC3654705  PMID: 23710229
10.  Factors that Influence Practitioners’ Interpretations of Evidence from Alternative Medicine Trials: A Factorial Vignette Experiment Embedded in a National Survey 
Medical care  2010;48(4):341-348.
Clinical trial evidence in controversial areas such as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) must be approached with an open mind.
To determine what factors may influence practitioners’ interpretation of evidence from CAM trials.
Research Design
In a mailed survey of 2400 U.S. CAM and conventional medicine practitioners we included two hypothetical factorial vignettes of positive and negative research results for CAM clinical trials. Vignettes contained randomly varied journal (Annals of Internal Medicine vs. Journal of CAM) and CAM treatment type (acupuncture, massage, glucosamine, meditation, and reiki). Response items also included randomly varied patient circumstances -- chronic refractory symptoms and the patient requesting CAM.
All practitioners rated the effectiveness and their willingness to recommend the therapy for a described patient. We used logistic regression to determine the independent influence of the four factors on respondents’ effectiveness and legitimacy judgments.
1561 practitioners responded (65%). Relative to Reiki, conventional medicine practitioners were most willing to recommend glucosamine (OR=3.0; 95% CI [1.6–5.4]), than massage (1.9 [1.1–3.3]), acupuncture (1.3 [0.8–2.2]), and meditation (1.2 [0.7–2.0]). CAM practitioners rated acupuncture as effective more than other CAM therapies (OR=5.8 [2.6–12.8]) compared to Reiki), and were more willing to recommend acupuncture (OR=12.3 [4.8–31.8]). When presented evidence of inefficacy, CAM practitioners were most willing to recommend acupuncture relative to other CAM therapies (OR=15.5 [9.0–26.9]).
Practitioners’ judgments about CAM trial evidence depend on the type of treatments reported. Confirmation bias may play a role in the clinical translation of new evidence from clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC2962778  PMID: 20355265
11.  Pakistani Pharmacy Students’ Perception About Complementary and Alternative Medicine 
Objectives. To assess Pakistani pharmacy students’ perceptions of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), the frequency with which they use CAM, and barriers to use of CAM.
Method. A CAM health belief questionnaire was administered to 595 students enrolled in a 5-year doctor of pharmacy program (PharmD) in Pakistan.
Results. Attitudes of students towards CAM were positive. Lack of evidence supporting CAM practices was considered to be the major barrier toward more students using CAM. A majority of students (79%) agreed that clinical care should integrate conventional medicine and CAM practices. Many CAM-based therapies, such as dietary supplements, massage, herbal medicines, and homoeopathic medicines were used by the students. Significant gender differences in attitude were observed, with male students having more conservative attitudes toward CAM use. A high percentage of students desired more training in CAM.
Conclusions. Pakistani students exhibited positive attitudes about the value of CAM and most felt that CAM should be included in the PharmD curriculum.
PMCID: PMC3305930  PMID: 22438593
pharmacy students; complementary and alternative medicine; perception; attitudes; Pakistan
12.  Looking for a Person-Centered Medicine: Non Conventional Medicine in the Conventional European and Italian Setting 
In Italy, the use of non conventional medicines (NCMs) is spreading among people as in the rest of Europe. Sales of alternative remedies are growing, and likewise the number of medical doctors (MDs) who practise NCM/complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). However, in Italy as in other countries of the European Union, at the present time the juridical/legal status of NCM/CAM is not well established, mainly due to the lack of any national law regulating NCM/CAM professional training, practice and public supply and the absence of government-promoted scientific research in this field. This is an obstacle to safeguarding the patient's interests and freedom of choice, especially now that dissatisfaction with biomedicine is inclining more and more people to look for a holistic and patient-centered form of medicine.
PMCID: PMC3110477  PMID: 19505973
13.  Neuropsychiatric Symptoms and the Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine 
PM & R : the journal of injury, function, and rehabilitation  2012;5(1):10.1016/j.pmrj.2012.06.012.
To assess the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by U.S. adults reporting neuropsychiatric symptoms and whether this prevalence changes based on the number of symptoms reported. Additional objectives include identifying patterns of CAM use, reasons for use, and disclosure of use with conventional providers in U.S. adults with neuropsychiatric symptoms.
Secondary database analysis of a prospective survey.
A total of 23,393 U.S. adults from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey.
We compared CAM use between adults with and without neuropsychiatric symptoms. Symptoms included self-reported anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, memory deficits, attention deficits, and excessive sleepiness. CAM use was defined as use of mind—body therapies (eg, meditation), biological therapies (eg, herbs), or manipulation therapies (eg, massage) or alternative medical systems (eg, Ayurveda). Statistical analysis included bivariable comparisons and multivariable logistical regression analyses.
Main Outcome Measures
The prevalence of CAM use among adults with neuropsychiatric symptoms within the previous 12 months and the comparison of CAM use between those with and without neuropsychiatric symptoms.
Adults with neuropsychiatric symptoms had a greater prevalence of CAM use compared with adults who did not have neuropsychiatric symptoms (43.8% versus 29.7%, P < .001); this prevalence increased with an increasing number of symptoms (trend, P < .001). Differences in the likelihood of CAM use as determined by the number of symptoms persisted after we adjusted for covariates. Twenty percent of patients used CAM because standard treatments were either too expensive or ineffective, and 25% used CAM because it was recommended by a conventional provider. Adults with at least one neuropsychiatric symptom were more likely to disclose the use of CAM to a conventional provider (47.9% versus 39.0%, P < .001).
More than 40% of adults with neuropsychiatric symptoms commonly observed in many diagnoses use CAM; an increasing number of symptoms was associated with an increased likelihood of CAM use.
PMCID: PMC3824364  PMID: 23098832
14.  Factors associated with self-care activities among adults in the United Kingdom: a systematic review 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:96.
The Government has promoted self-care. Our aim was to review evidence about who uses self-tests and other self-care activities (over-the-counter medicine, private sector, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), home blood pressure monitors).
During April 2007, relevant bibliographic databases (Medline, Embase, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts, PsycINFO, British Nursing Index, Allied and Complementary Medicine Database, Sociological Abstracts, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, Arthritis and Complementary Medicine Database, Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Pain Database) were searched, and potentially relevant studies were reviewed against eligibility criteria. Studies were included if they were published during the last 15 years and identified factors, reasons or characteristics associated with a relevant activity among UK adults. Two independent reviewers used proformas to assess the quality of eligible studies.
206 potentially relevant papers were identified, 157 were excluded, and 49 papers related to 46 studies were included: 37 studies were, or used data from questionnaire surveys, 36 had quality scores of five or more out of 10, and 27 were about CAM. Available evidence suggests that users of CAM and over-the-counter medicine are female, middle-aged, affluent and/or educated with some measure of poor health, and that people who use the private sector are affluent and/or educated.
People who engage in these activities are likely to be affluent. Targeted promotion may, therefore, be needed to ensure that use is equitable. People who use some activities also appear to have poorer measures of health than non-users or people attending conventional services. It is, therefore, also important to ensure that self-care is not used as a second choice for people who have not had their needs met by conventional services.
PMCID: PMC2674604  PMID: 19344526
15.  Reiki and related therapies in the dialysis ward: an evidence-based and ethical discussion to debate if these complementary and alternative medicines are welcomed or banned 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:129.
Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAMs) are increasingly practiced in the general population; it is estimated that over 30% of patients with chronic diseases use CAMs on a regular basis. CAMs are also used in hospital settings, suggesting a growing interest in individualized therapies. One potential field of interest is pain, frequently reported by dialysis patients, and seldom sufficiently relieved by mainstream therapies. Gentle-touch therapies and Reiki (an energy based touch therapy) are widely used in the western population as pain relievers.
By integrating evidence based approaches and providing ethical discussion, this debate discusses the pros and cons of CAMs in the dialysis ward, and whether such approaches should be welcomed or banned.
In spite of the wide use of CAMs in the general population, few studies deal with the pros and cons of an integration of mainstream medicine and CAMs in dialysis patients; one paper only regarded the use of Reiki and related practices. Widening the search to chronic pain, Reiki and related practices, 419 articles were found on Medline and 6 were selected (1 Cochrane review and 5 RCTs updating the Cochrane review). According to the EBM approach, Reiki allows a statistically significant but very low-grade pain reduction without specific side effects. Gentle-touch therapy and Reiki are thus good examples of approaches in which controversial efficacy has to be balanced against no known side effect, frequent free availability (volunteer non-profit associations) and easy integration with any other pharmacological or non pharmacological therapy. While a classical evidence-based approach, showing low-grade efficacy, is likely to lead to a negative attitude towards the use of Reiki in the dialysis ward, the ethical discussion, analyzing beneficium (efficacy) together with non maleficium (side effects), justice (cost, availability and integration with mainstream therapies) and autonomy (patients’ choice) is likely to lead to a permissive-positive attitude.
This paper debates the current evidence on Reiki and related techniques as pain-relievers in an ethical framework, and suggests that physicians may wish to consider efficacy but also side effects, contextualization (availability and costs) and patient’s requests, according also to the suggestions of the Society for Integrative Oncology (tolerate, control efficacy and side effects).
PMCID: PMC3694469  PMID: 23799960
Chronic pain; Chronic kidney disease; Alternative; Allied and complementary medicine; Reiki; Touch therapy
16.  Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use among Physicians in Oriental Medicine Hospitals in Vietnam: A Hospital-Based Survey 
Interest in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is growing worldwide, even in Vietnam where traditional medicine is considered mainstream. We conducted a survey of the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of CAM therapies among physicians in oriental medicine (OM) hospitals in Vietnam. A two-stage random selection process selected 337 physicians who were interviewed using a face-to-face method with a standardized structured questionnaire. Data from 312 physicians who completed the questionnaire suggested that oriental herbal medicine and acupuncture (Vietnamese OM version) were the more commonly used CAM modalities compared with Vietnamese folk medicine and other forms of CAM. A broad range of CAM modalities, particularly chiropractice, diet supplements, and dietary therapy, and an excessive proportion of western medication were employed in conjunction with OM in the physicians' daily practice. Their daily practice was influenced by the source of knowledge, education level, medical specialty, and working environment. These findings suggest that physicians in OM hospitals in Vietnam have interests in various forms of CAM therapies besides traditional modes.
PMCID: PMC3619628  PMID: 23634168
17.  Measurement Properties of Questionnaires Assessing Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use in Pediatrics: A Systematic Review 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39611.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is commonly used by children, but estimates of that use vary widely partly due to the range of questionnaires used to assess CAM use. However, no studies have attempted to appraise measurement properties of these questionnaires. The aim of this systematic review was to critically appraise and summarize measurement properties of questionnaires of CAM use in pediatrics.
Study design
A search strategy was implemented in major electronic databases in March 2011 and conference websites, scientific journals and experts were consulted. Studies were included if they mentioned a questionnaire assessing the prevalence of CAM use in pediatrics. Members of the team independently rated the methodological quality of the studies (using the COSMIN checklist) and measurement properties of the questionnaires (using the Terwee and Cohen criteria).
A total of 96 CAM questionnaires were found in 104 publications. The COSMIN checklist showed that no studies reported adequate methodological quality. The Terwee criteria showed that all included CAM questionnaires had indeterminate measurement properties. According to the Cohen score, none were considered to be a well-established assessment, two approached the level of a well-established assessment, seven were promising assessments and the remainder (n = 87) did not reach the score’s minimum standards.
None of the identified CAM questionnaires have been thoroughly validated. This systematic review highlights the need for proper validation of CAM questionnaires in pediatrics, which may in turn lead to improved research and knowledge translation about CAM in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3387262  PMID: 22768098
18.  Collecting Information About a CAM Practitioner’s Practice: A Preliminary Report of a Self-Interview Methodology 
To prepare allopathic providers to advise patients about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies, the University of Kentucky CAM curriculum integration project has identified and trained CAM practitioners to coteach, precept, and demonstrate their respective practices. This project is interested in integrating CAM practitioners as teachers into this university and has formed a multidisciplinary committee for advice. The committee has recognized the importance of increased understanding of CAM practices to enhance communication within itself and to decide to which CAM practices students should receive exposure. This article reports our attempt to create a CAM practice description, based on questions general to CAM practice and specific to a particular approach. Because there is limited existing systematic research on CAM practice characteristics, these questions may interest researchers conducting qualitative studies, especially those seeking an example of questions to ask CAM practitioners. We also believe this practice description will be of general interest.
PMCID: PMC2772081  PMID: 19890441
complementary and alternative medicine; practice characteristics; herbs; interview
19.  Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Was Associated with Higher Perceived Physical and Mental Functioning in Early Systemic Sclerosis 
Explore (New York, N.Y.)  2008;4(4):259-263.
This study assessed the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies in patients with early systemic sclerosis (scleroderma, SSc).
At the annual visit, SSc patients enrolled in the Genetics versus Environment in Scleroderma Outcomes Study (GENISOS) were queried about their use of CAM therapies and intended symptom target, including herbal or nutriceutical therapy, acupuncture, transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation (TENS) and mind-body therapy (relaxation, meditative, imagery). The CAM user SSc patients were compared to matched non-CAM users over two years for database results of demographic, clinical and health-related quality of life SF-36 questionnaires by analysis of covariance.
25% of the university GENISOS group were CAM users: age: 54 years; female: 89%; diffuse cutaneous involvement: 47%; total skin score: 13.5; Medsger severity index: 5.8. Over 70% used ≥1 CAM therapies for over 1 year, independent of health insurance. Symptoms targeted included arthritis/arthralgia, pain, GI dysmotility and fatigue. CAM users had significantly higher mean mental component summary (MCS) scores on SF-36 at Baseline and Year 2, (49 and 49.9), compared to non-CAM users (42 and 40.2, respectively, p<0.01). At Year 2, the CAM user group had significantly higher scores of SF-36 domains physical component score, role-physical, bodily pain and vitality, whereas scores declined in the non-CAM user group.
In SSc, 70% of those in the CAM user group reported a long-term commitment to CAM therapies. Higher perceived mental functioning in CAM users might reflect more self-motivation to manage symptoms and subsequently, promote practices that result in higher perceived physical functioning.
PMCID: PMC2875784  PMID: 18602619
CAM; SF-36; Integrative Medicine; Pain; Arthritis; GI Hypomotility; Scleroderma; GENISOS
20.  Attitudes Towards Complementary and Alternative Medicine Among Pharmacy Faculty and Students 
To determine pharmacy faculty members' and students’ attitudes and perceptions regarding the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
A survey was used to obtain data on the following information concerning CAM: general attitudes, perceived barriers to use, training received and desired, personal use, and information sources used.
In general, attitudes of pharmacy faculty members and students towards CAM were positive. Lack of evidence for CAM practices was considered the greatest barrier to the use of CAM by faculty members and students. Many CAM therapies were perceived to be effective. A high percentage of students desire more training in the areas of herbal medicine and nutritional supplements. Faculty members and students believe that CAM should be included in the curriculum.
General attitudes towards CAM are positive among pharmacy faculty members and students, and most believe that CAM should be taught in the pharmacy curriculum. More resources and training of faculty members may be necessary.
PMCID: PMC1803695  PMID: 17332855
complementary and alternative medicine; attitudes; students; faculty
21.  Using Basic Science to Develop an Innovative Program in Complementary and Alternative Medicine 
The growing interest in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and the increasing incorporation of its modalities in the United States' healthcare system have exposed a number of problems in the field. These include a shortage of qualified CAM providers, scarcity of evidence-based research, lack of trained scientists in the field, and the ubiquitous marketing of frequently uncontrolled CAM products. Thus, the development of a comprehensive and scientifically sound educational infrastructure has become a crucial initial step in redirecting these adverse trends.
With support from the NIH-sponsored curricular CAM initiative, faculty from the department of physiology and biophysics at Georgetown University developed a M.S. program in CAM in 2003. This unique, first of its kind, science-based graduate program offers a master's degree (MS) in physiology with an emphasis on CAM. The CAM-MS degree in physiology is designed to enable students to critically assess various CAM modalities, apply scientific rigor, and carry out evidence-based CAM research. The curriculum includes core science courses and CAM-related classes. Additionally, in order to emphasize the application of academic knowledge and further strengthen problem-solving skills, the students complete an eight-week summer practicum in a professional CAM-related environment.
Here, we report on our innovative and interdisciplinary CAM graduate program where creative teaching is implemented by basic scientists and enhanced by the application of their disciplines in tandem with the clinical expertise of CAM practitioners in the community. Thus, the faculty in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics is developing emerging cross disciplinary areas of study and interest in order to prepare new generations of future physicians, health professionals, educators, and researchers capable of objectively assessing the safety and efficacy of various CAM modalities, and introducing scientific rigor to much needed research into the various aspects of CAM therapies.
PMCID: PMC3019605  PMID: 21243105
Graduate education; Basic science; Complementary and Alternative Medicine
22.  The role of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in Germany – A focus group study of GPs 
There has been a marked increase in the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in recent years worldwide. In Germany, apart from 'Heilpraktiker' (= state-licensed, non-medical CAM practitioners), some general practitioners (GPs) provide CAM in their practices. This paper aims to explore the attitudes of GPs about the role of CAM in Germany, in relation to the healthcare system, quality of care, medical education and research. Furthermore, experiences of GPs integrating CAM in their daily practice were explored.
Using a qualitative methodological approach 3 focus groups with a convenience sample of 17 GPs were conducted. The discussions were transcribed verbatim and analysed using qualitative content analysis.
The majority of the participating GPs had integrated one or more CAM therapies into their every-day practice. Four key themes were identified based on the topics covered in the focus groups: the role of CAM within the German healthcare system, quality of care, education and research. Within the theme 'role of CAM within the healthcare system' there were five categories: integration of CAM, CAM in the Statutory Health Insurance, modernisation of the Statutory Health Insurance Act, individual healthcare services and 'Heilpraktiker'. Regarding quality of care there were two broad groups of GPs: those who thought patients would benefit from standardizing CAM and those who feared that quality control would interfere with the individual approach of CAM. The main issues identified relating to research and education were the need for the development of alternative research strategies and the low quality of existing CAM education respectively.
The majority of the participating GPs considered CAM as a reasonable complementary approach within primary care. The study increased our understanding of GPs attitudes about the role of CAM within the German healthcare system and the use of 'Heilpraktiker' as a competing CAM-provider. It seems to be a need for increased funding for research, better education and remuneration by the Statutory Health Insurance in order to improve access to 'Integrative medicine' in Germany.
PMCID: PMC2442431  PMID: 18549476
Osteoarthritis and Cartilage  2011;20(1):22-28.
To examine use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among individuals with radiographic confirmed osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee
We included 2,679 participants of the Osteoarthritis Initiative with radiographic tibiofemoral knee OA in at least one knee at baseline. Trained interviewers asked a series of specific questions relating to current OA treatments including CAM therapies (7 categories—alternative medical systems, mind-body interventions, manipulation and body-based methods, energy therapies, and 3 types of biologically based therapies) and conventional medications. Participants were classified as: 1) conventional medication users only, 2) CAM users only; 3) users of both; and 4) users of neither. Polytomous logistic regression identified correlates of treatment approaches including sociodemographics and clinical/functional correlates.
CAM use was prevalent (47%), with 24% reporting use of both CAM and conventional medication approaches. Multi-joint OA was correlated with all treatments (adjusted Odds Ratio (aOR) conventional medications: 1.62; CAM only: 1.37 and both: 2.16). X-ray evidence of severe narrowing (OARSI grade 3) was associated with use of glucosamine/chondroitin (aOR: 2.20) and use of both (aOR: 1.98). The WOMAC-Pain Score was correlated with conventional medication use, either alone (aOR: 1.28) or in combination with CAM (aOR: 1.41 per one standard deviation change). KOOS-QOL and SF-12 Physical Scale scores were inversely related to all treatments.
CAM is commonly used to treat joint and arthritis pain among persons with knee OA. The extent to which these treatments are effective in managing symptoms and slowing disease progression remains to be proven.
PMCID: PMC3254852  PMID: 22033041
knee osteoarthritis; complementary and alternative medicine; conventional medication
24.  The Role of Dual-trained Conventional/Complementary Physicians as Mediators of Integration in Primary Care 
A growing number of physicians study complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Limited data are available on perspectives of physicians with dual training in conventional medicine and CAM, on issues of communication and collaboration with CAM practitioners (CAMPs). Questionnaires were administered to primary care physicians employed in the largest health maintenance organization (HMO) in Israel and to MD and non-MD CAM practitioners employed by a CAM-related agency of the same HMO. Data for statistical analysis were available from 333 primary care physicians (PCPs) and 241 CAM practitioners. Thirty-one of the 241 CAMPs were dual-trained physicians employed in a CAM-related agency as practitioners and/or triage-consultants. Dual trained physicians and CAMPs shared similar attitudes and supported, more so than PCPs, collaborative physician–CAM practitioner teamwork in clinical practice, medical education and research. Nevertheless, dual trained physicians supported a physician-dominant teamwork model (similar to the PCPs’ approach) in contrast to non-MD CAM practitioners who mainly supported a co-directed teamwork model. Compared to PCPs and non-MD CAM practitioners, dual trained physicians supported significantly more a medical/referral letter as the preferred means of doctor–CAM practitioner communication. Dual trained physicians have a unique outlook toward CAM integration and physician–practitioner collaboration, compared to non-MD CAM practitioners and PCPs. More studies are warranted to explore the role of dual trained physicians as mediators of integration.
PMCID: PMC2892352  PMID: 18955339
CAM: complementary alternative medicine; doctor–patient communication; family medicine; integrative medicine; primary care
25.  Incommensurable Worldviews? Is Public Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicines Incompatible with Support for Science and Conventional Medicine? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53174.
Proponents of controversial Complementary and Alternative Medicines, such as homeopathy, argue that these treatments can be used with great effect in addition to, and sometimes instead of, ‘conventional’ medicine. In doing so, they accept the idea that the scientific approach to the evaluation of treatment does not undermine use of and support for some of the more controversial CAM treatments. For those adhering to the scientific canon, however, such efficacy claims lack the requisite evidential basis from randomised controlled trials. It is not clear, however, whether such opposition characterises the views of the general public. In this paper we use data from the 2009 Wellcome Monitor survey to investigate public use of and beliefs about the efficacy of a prominent and controversial CAM within the United Kingdom, homeopathy. We proceed by using Latent Class Analysis to assess whether it is possible to identify a sub-group of the population who are at ease in combining support for science and conventional medicine with use of CAM treatments, and belief in the efficacy of homeopathy. Our results suggest that over 40% of the British public maintain positive evaluations of both homeopathy and conventional medicine simultaneously. Explanatory analyses reveal that simultaneous support for a controversial CAM treatment and conventional medicine is, in part, explained by a lack of scientific knowledge as well as concerns about the regulation of medical research.
PMCID: PMC3559728  PMID: 23382836

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