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1.  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
2.  Finding toxicological information: An approach for occupational health professionals 
It can be difficult for occupational health professionals to assess which toxicological databases available on the Internet are the most useful for answering their questions. Therefore we evaluated toxicological databases for their ability to answer practical questions about exposure and prevention. We also propose recommended practices for searching for toxicological properties of chemicals.
We used a systematic search to find databases available on the Internet. Our criteria for the databases were the following: has a search engine, includes factual information on toxic and hazardous chemicals harmful for human health, and is free of charge. We developed both a qualitative and a quantitative rating method, which was used by four independent assessors to determine appropriateness, the quality of content, and ease of use of the database. Final ratings were based on a consensus of at least two evaluators.
Out of 822 results we found 21 databases that met our inclusion criteria. Out of these 21 databases 14 are administered in the US, five in Europe, one in Australia, and one in Canada. Nine are administered by a governmental organization. No database achieved the maximum score of 27. The databases GESTIS, ESIS, Hazardous Substances Data Bank, TOXNET and NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards all scored more than 20 points. The following approach was developed for occupational health professionals searching for the toxicological properties of chemicals: start with the identity of the chemical; then search for health hazards, exposure route and measurement; next the limit values; and finally look for the preventive measures.
A rating system of toxicological databases to assess their value for occupational health professionals discriminated well between databases in terms of their appropriateness, quality of information, and ease of use. Several American and European databases yielded high scores and provide a valuable source for occupational health professionals.
PMCID: PMC2551601  PMID: 18700959
3.  Utilization of the PICO framework to improve searching PubMed for clinical questions 
Supporting 21st century health care and the practice of evidence-based medicine (EBM) requires ubiquitous access to clinical information and to knowledge-based resources to answer clinical questions. Many questions go unanswered, however, due to lack of skills in formulating questions, crafting effective search strategies, and accessing databases to identify best levels of evidence.
This randomized trial was designed as a pilot study to measure the relevancy of search results using three different interfaces for the PubMed search system. Two of the search interfaces utilized a specific framework called PICO, which was designed to focus clinical questions and to prompt for publication type or type of question asked. The third interface was the standard PubMed interface readily available on the Web. Study subjects were recruited from interns and residents on an inpatient general medicine rotation at an academic medical center in the US. Thirty-one subjects were randomized to one of the three interfaces, given 3 clinical questions, and asked to search PubMed for a set of relevant articles that would provide an answer for each question. The success of the search results was determined by a precision score, which compared the number of relevant or gold standard articles retrieved in a result set to the total number of articles retrieved in that set.
Participants using the PICO templates (Protocol A or Protocol B) had higher precision scores for each question than the participants who used Protocol C, the standard PubMed Web interface. (Question 1: A = 35%, B = 28%, C = 20%; Question 2: A = 5%, B = 6%, C = 4%; Question 3: A = 1%, B = 0%, C = 0%) 95% confidence intervals were calculated for the precision for each question using a lower boundary of zero. However, the 95% confidence limits were overlapping, suggesting no statistical difference between the groups.
Due to the small number of searches for each arm, this pilot study could not demonstrate a statistically significant difference between the search protocols. However there was a trend towards higher precision that needs to be investigated in a larger study to determine if PICO can improve the relevancy of search results.
PMCID: PMC1904193  PMID: 17573961
4.  CAMbase – A XML-based bibliographical database on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) 
The term "Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)" covers a variety of approaches to medical theory and practice, which are not commonly accepted by representatives of conventional medicine. In the past two decades, these approaches have been studied in various areas of medicine. Although there appears to be a growing number of scientific publications on CAM, the complete spectrum of complementary therapies still requires more information about published evidence. A majority of these research publications are still not listed in electronic bibliographical databases such as MEDLINE. However, with a growing demand by patients for such therapies, physicians increasingly need an overview of scientific publications on CAM. Bearing this in mind, CAMbase, a bibliographical database on CAM was launched in order to close this gap. It can be accessed online free of charge or additional costs.
The user can peruse more than 80,000 records from over 30 journals and periodicals on CAM, which are stored in CAMbase. A special search engine performing syntactical and semantical analysis of textual phrases allows the user quickly to find relevant bibliographical information on CAM. Between August 2003 and July 2006, 43,299 search queries, an average of 38 search queries per day, were registered focussing on CAM topics such as acupuncture, cancer or general safety aspects. Analysis of the requests led to the conclusion that CAMbase is not only used by scientists and researchers but also by physicians and patients who want to find out more about CAM.
Closely related to this effort is our aim to establish a modern library center on Complementary Medicine which offers the complete spectrum of a modern digital library including a document delivery-service for physicians, therapists, scientists and researchers.
PMCID: PMC1853104  PMID: 17407592
5.  Information-seeking behavior in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM): an online survey of faculty at a health sciences campus* 
Background: The amount of reliable information available for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is limited, and few authoritative resources are available.
Objective: The objective is to investigate the information-seeking behavior of health professionals seeking CAM information.
Methods: Data were gathered using a Web-based questionnaire made available to health sciences faculty affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco.
Results: The areas of greatest interest were herbal medicine (67%), relaxation exercises (53%), and acupuncture (52%). About half the respondents perceived their CAM searches as being only partially successful. Eighty-two percent rated MEDLINE as a useful resource, 46% personal contacts with colleagues, 46% the Web, 40% journals, and 20% textbooks. Books and databases most frequently cited as useful had information about herbs. The largest group of respondents was in internal medicine (26%), though 15% identified their specialties as psychiatry, psychology, behavioral medicine, or addiction medicine. There was no correlation between specialty and patterns of information-seeking behavior. Sixty-six percent expressed an interest in learning more about CAM resources.
Conclusions: Health professionals are frequently unable to locate the CAM information they need, and the majority have little knowledge of existing CAM resources, relying instead on MEDLINE. Medical librarians need to educate health professionals in the identification and use of authoritative CAM resources.
PMCID: PMC164394  PMID: 12883563
6.  Real-time EBM: From Bed Board to Keyboard and Back 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2007;22(12):1656-1660.
To practice Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM), physicians must quickly retrieve evidence to inform medical decisions. Internal Medicine (IM) residents receive little formal education in electronic database searching, and have identified poor searching skills as a barrier to practicing EBM.
To design and implement a database searching tutorial for IM residents on inpatient rotations and to evaluate its impact on residents’ skill and comfort searching MEDLINE and filtered EBM resources.
Randomized controlled trial. Residents randomized to the searching tutorial met for up to 6 1-hour small group sessions to search for answers to questions about current hospitalized patients.
Second- and 3rd-year IM residents.
Residents in both groups completed an Objective Structured Searching Evaluation (OSSE), searching for primary evidence to answer 5 clinical questions. OSSE outcomes were the number of successful searches, search times, and techniques utilized. Participants also completed self-assessment surveys measuring frequency and comfort using EBM databases.
During the OSSE, residents who participated in the intervention utilized more searching techniques overall (p < .01) and used PubMed’s Clinical Queries more often (p < .001) than control residents. Searching “success” and time per completed search did not differ between groups. Compared with controls, intervention residents reported greater comfort using MEDLINE (p < .05) and the Cochrane Library (p < .05) on post-intervention surveys. The groups did not differ in comfort using ACP Journal Club, or in self-reported frequency of use of any databases.
An inpatient EBM searching tutorial improved searching techniques of IM residents and resulted in increased comfort with MEDLINE and the Cochrane Library, but did not impact overall searching success.
PMCID: PMC2219829  PMID: 17922170
evidence-based medicine; medical education; internship and residency; searching
7.  Efficacy of Quality Criteria to Identify Potentially Harmful Information: A Cross-sectional Survey of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Web Sites 
Many users search the Internet for answers to health questions. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a particularly common search topic. Because many CAM therapies do not require a clinician's prescription, false or misleading CAM information may be more dangerous than information about traditional therapies. Many quality criteria have been suggested to filter out potentially harmful online health information. However, assessing the accuracy of CAM information is uniquely challenging since CAM is generally not supported by conventional literature.
The purpose of this study is to determine whether domain-independent technical quality criteria can identify potentially harmful online CAM content.
We analyzed 150 Web sites retrieved from a search for the three most popular herbs: ginseng, ginkgo and St. John's wort and their purported uses on the ten most commonly used search engines. The presence of technical quality criteria as well as potentially harmful statements (commissions) and vital information that should have been mentioned (omissions) was recorded.
Thirty-eight sites (25%) contained statements that could lead to direct physical harm if acted upon. One hundred forty five sites (97%) had omitted information. We found no relationship between technical quality criteria and potentially harmful information.
Current technical quality criteria do not identify potentially harmful CAM information online. Consumers should be warned to use other means of validation or to trust only known sites. Quality criteria that consider the uniqueness of CAM must be developed and validated.
PMCID: PMC1550600  PMID: 15249270
Quality; harm; Internet; medical information; World Wide Web; complementary and alternative medicine
8.  Evaluating the prevalence, content and readability of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) web pages on the internet. 
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is growing rapidly. As CAM is relatively unregulated, it is important to evaluate the type and availability of CAM information. The goal of this study is to deter-mine the prevalence, content and readability of online CAM information based on searches for arthritis, diabetes and fibromyalgia using four common search engines. Fifty-eight of 599 web pages retrieved by a "condition search" (9.6%) were CAM-oriented. Of 216 CAM pages found by the "condition" and "condition + herbs" searches, 78% were authored by commercial organizations, whose pur-pose involved commerce 69% of the time and 52.3% had no references. Although 98% of the CAM information was intended for consumers, the mean read-ability was at grade level 11. We conclude that consumers searching the web for health information are likely to encounter consumer-oriented CAM advertising, which is difficult to read and is not supported by the conventional literature.
PMCID: PMC2244422  PMID: 12463909
9.  Questions about complementary and alternative medicine to the Regional Medicines Information and Pharmacovigilance Centres in Norway (RELIS): a descriptive pilot study 
Provision of clinically relevant information about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to health care professionals is not well described. The aim of the study was to assess questions about CAM to the Regional Medicines Information and Pharmacovigilance Centres in Norway (RELIS).
All question-answers pairs (QAPs) in the RELIS database indexed with alternative medicine from 2005-2010 constituted the study material. A randomly selected sample of 100 QAPs was characterized with regard to type of question (category, patient-specific or general), occupation and workplace of enquirer, the type of information search performed (simple or advanced), and if the answers contained information to provide factual or consultative replies (facts about or advice on clinical use of CAM, respectively). Proportions were compared with Fisher’s exact test with significance at the 0.05 level.
One thousand and thirty-eight (7.7%) out of 13 482 questions involved CAM. Eighty-two out of 100 questions concerned products containing one or more herbs, vitamins and minerals as well as other substances. Thirty-eight out of 100 questions concerned the category documentation (substance identification and/or literature reports about clinical effects), 36 interactions, 16 adverse effects, 9 pregnancy and lactation, and 1 question concerned contraindications. Sixty-three questions were patient-specific and 37 general. Fifty-four questions came from physicians, 33 from pharmacists and 13 from others (including nurses, midwives, students, CAM practitioners, and the public). Pharmacists asked more frequently about interactions while physicians asked more frequently about adverse effects (p < 0.05). Seventy-six of the questions came from outside hospital, mainly general practice and community pharmacies. Fifty-nine answers were based on a simple and 41 on an advanced information search. Thirty-three factual and 38 consultative answers were provided. In 29 answers, search provided no information. Lack of information to provide an answer was not significantly different between patient-specific (31.7%) and general questions (24.3%).
General practice and community pharmacies are the main sources for questions about CAM to RELIS. Physicians are concerned about adverse effects while pharmacists are concerned about interactions. Lack of information to provide answers to patient-specific and general questions about CAM represents a problem.
PMCID: PMC3932037  PMID: 24529279
Drug information; Complementary and alternative medicine; Decision support
10.  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
11.  IN-CAM Outcomes Database: Its Relevance and Application in Massage Therapy Research and Practice 
One of the most commonly used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities in North America is massage therapy (MT). Research to date indicates many potential health benefits of MT, suggesting that ongoing research efforts to further elucidate and substantiate preliminary findings within the massage profession should be given high priority. Central to the development of a sound evidence base for MT are the use of valid, reliable, and relevant outcome measures in research, and practice in assessing the effectiveness of MT. The purpose of the present article is to introduce MT researchers and massage therapists interested in using outcome measures in research and clinical practice to the IN-CAM Outcomes Database website by describing the Outcomes Database and identifying its utility in MT research and practice. The IN-CAM Outcomes Database is a centralized location where information on outcome measures is collected and made accessible to users. Outcome measures are organized in the database within the Framework of Outcome Domains. The Framework includes health domains relevant to conventional medicine and CAM alike, and health domains that have been identified as important to CAM interventions. Users of the website may search for information on a specific outcome measure, plan research projects, and engage in discussions related to outcomes assessment in the CAM field with other users and with members of the CAM research community. As the MT profession continues to evolve and move toward evidence-informed practice, the IN-CAM Outcomes Database website can be a valuable resource for MT researchers and massage therapists.
PMCID: PMC3091455  PMID: 21589721
Massage therapy; research; practice; health outcomes; outcomes database
12.  The Relationship between Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use and Breast Cancer Early Detection: A Critical Review 
Objective. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is prevalent. Concurrently, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, with early detection techniques widely available. This paper examined the overlap between participation in allopathic breast cancer early detection activities and CAM use. Methods. A systematic review examined the association between breast screening behaviors and CAM use. Searches were conducted on the PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, and NCCAM databases and gray literature between 1990 and 2011. STROBE criteria were used to assess study quality. Results. Nine studies met the search criteria. Four focused on CAM use in women at high breast cancer risk and five on average risk women. CAM use in women ranged from 22% to 82% and was high regardless of breast cancer risk. Correlations between CAM use and breast cancer early detection were not strong or consistent but significant relationships that did emerge were positive. Conclusions. Populations surveyed, and measures used to assess CAM, breast cancer screening, and correlates, varied widely. Many women who obtained allopathic screening also sought out CAM. This provides a foundation for future interventions and research to build on women's motivation to enhance health and develop ways to increase the connections between CAM and allopathic care.
PMCID: PMC3536331  PMID: 23320029
13.  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
14.  Acupuncture, chiropractic and osteopathy use in Australia: a national population survey 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:105.
There have been no published national studies on the use in Australia of the manipulative therapies, acupuncture, chiropractic or osteopathy, or on matters including the purposes for which these therapies are used, treatment outcomes and the socio-demographic characteristics of users.
This study on the three manipulative therapies was a component of a broader investigation on the use of complementary and alternative therapies. For this we conducted a cross-sectional, population survey on a representative sample of 1,067 adults from the six states and two territories of Australia in 2005 by computer-assisted telephone interviews. The sample was recruited by random digit dialling.
Over a 12-month period, approximately one in four adult Australians used either acupuncture (9.2%), chiropractic (16.1%) or osteopathy (4.6%) at least once. It is estimated that, adult Australians made 32.3 million visits to acupuncturists, chiropractors and osteopaths, incurring personal expenditure estimated to be A$1.58 billion in total. The most common conditions treated were back pain and related problems and over 90% of the users of each therapy considered their treatment to be very or somewhat helpful. Adverse events are reported. Nearly one fifth of users were referred to manipulative therapy practitioners by medical practitioners.
There is substantial use of manipulative therapies by adult Australians, especially for back-related problems. Treatments incur considerable personal expenditure. In general, patient experience is positive. Referral by medical practitioners is a major determinant of use of these manipulative therapies.
PMCID: PMC2322980  PMID: 18377663
15.  MCAM: A Database to Accelerate the Identification of Functional Cell Adhesion Molecules 
Cancer Informatics  2008;6:47-50.
In the post-genomic era, computational identification of cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) becomes important in defining new targets for diagnosis and treatment of various diseases including cancer. Lack of a comprehensive CAM-specific database restricts our ability to identify and characterize novel CAMs. Therefore, we developed a comprehensive mammalian cell adhesion molecule (MCAM) database. The current version is an interactive Web-based database, which provides the resources needed to search mouse, human and rat-specific CAMs and their sequence information and characteristics such as gene functions and virtual gene expression patterns in normal and tumor tissues as well as cell lines. Moreover, the MCAM database can be used for various bioinformatics and biological analyses including identifying CAMs involved in cell-cell interactions and homing of lymphocytes, hematopoietic stem cells and malignant cells to specific organs using data from high-throughput experiments. Furthermore, the database can also be used for training and testing existing transmembrane (TM) topology prediction methods specifically for CAM sequences. The database is freely available online at
PMCID: PMC2623291  PMID: 19259402
cell adhesion molecules; cancer; gene ontology; virtual gene expression; database; organ-specific homing; classification of cell adhesion molecules
16.  Who Uses CAM? A Narrative Review of Demographic Characteristics and Health Factors Associated with CAM Use 
Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) are used by an extensive number of patients in the UK and elsewhere. In order to understand this pattern of behavior, it is helpful to examine the characteristics of people who use CAM. This narrative review collates and evaluates the evidence concerning the demographic characteristics and health status factors associated with CAM use in community-based non-clinical populations. A systematic literature search of computerized databases was conducted, and published research papers which present evidence concerning associations between CAM use and demographic and health characteristics are discussed and evaluated. The evidence suggests that people who use CAM tend to be female, of middle age and have more education. In terms of their health, CAM users tend to have more than one medical condition, but might not be more likely than non-users to have specific conditions such as cancer or to rate their own general health as poor. The multivariate studies that have been conducted suggest that both demographic and health characteristics contribute independently to CAM use. In conclusion, demographic characteristics and factors related to an individual's health status are associated with CAM use. Future research is needed to address methodological limitations in existing studies.
PMCID: PMC2816378  PMID: 18955327
CAM use; patient characteristics; review
17.  CAM practitioners in the Australian health workforce: an underutilized resource 
CAM practitioners are a valuable but underutilizes resource in Australian health care. Despite increasing public support for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) little is known about the CAM workforce. Apart from the registered professions of chiropractic, osteopathy and Chinese medicine, accurate information about the number of CAM practitioners in the workforce has been difficult to obtain. It appears that many non-registered CAM practitioners, although highly qualified, are not working to their full capacity.
Increasing public endorsement of CAM stands in contrast to the negative attitude toward the CAM workforce by some members of the medical and other health professions and by government policy makers. The marginalisation of the CAM workforce is evident in prejudicial attitudes held by some members of the medical and other health professions and its exclusion from government policy making. Inconsistent educational standards has meant that non-registered CAM practitioners, including highly qualified and competent ones, are frequently overlooked. Legitimising their contribution to the health workforce could alleviate workforce shortages and provide opportunities for redesigned job roles and new multidisciplinary teams. Priorities for better utilisation of the CAM workforce include establishing a guaranteed minimum education standard for more CAM occupation groups through national registration, providing interprofessional education that includes CAM practitioners, developing courses to upgrade CAM practitioners' professional skills in areas of indentified need, and increasing support for CAM research.
Marginalisation of the CAM workforce has disadvantaged those qualified and competent CAM practitioners who practise evidence-informed medicine on the basis of many years of university training. Legitimising and expanding the important contribution of CAM practitioners could alleviate projected health workforce shortages, particularly for the prevention and management of chronic health conditions and for health promotion.
PMCID: PMC3528465  PMID: 23116374
18.  Information literacy skills of occupational therapy graduates: a survey of learning outcomes 
Objectives: The purpose of this study is to assess whether recent graduates of the Ohio State University's Occupational Therapy division are applying information-seeking skills they learned as undergraduates, and to seek their advice on ways to improve information-literacy instruction for current and future occupational therapy students.
Method: A survey was sent to a sample of graduates from 1995–2000. The results were entered into an SPSS database, and descriptive and inferential results were calculated to determine the information-seeking patterns of these recent graduates.
Results: A majority of the occupational therapy graduates who responded to the survey prefer to use information resources that are readily available to them, such as advice from their colleagues or supervisors (79%) and the Internet (69%), rather than the evidence available in the journal literature. Twenty-six percent (26%) of the graduates have searched MEDLINE or CINAHL at least once since they graduated. Formal library instruction sessions were considered useful by 42% of the graduates, and 22% of the graduates found informal contacts with librarians to be useful.
Conclusions: Librarians and occupational therapy faculty must intensify their efforts to convey the importance of applying research information to patient care and inform students of ways to access this information after they graduate. In addition to teaching searching skills for MEDLINE and CINAHL, they must provide instruction on how to assess the quality of information they find on the Internet. Other findings suggest that occupational therapy practitioners need access to information systems in the clinical setting that synthesize the research in a way that is readily applicable to patient-care issues.
PMCID: PMC209513  PMID: 14566378
19.  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
20.  Evaluating complementary and alternative medicine interventions: in search of appropriate patient-centered outcome measures 
Central to the development of a sound evidence base for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) interventions is the need for valid, reliable and relevant outcome measures to assess whether the interventions work. We assessed the specific needs for a database that would cover a wide range of outcomes measures for CAM research and considered a framework for such a database.
The study was a survey of CAM researchers, practitioners and students. An online questionnaire was emailed to the members of the Canadian Interdisciplinary Network for CAM Research (IN-CAM) and the CAM Education and Research Network of Alberta (CAMera). The majority of survey questions were open-ended and asked about outcome measures currently used, outcome measures' assessment criteria, sources of information, perceived barriers to finding outcome measures and outcome domains of importance. Descriptive quantitative analysis and qualitative content analysis were used.
One hundred and sixty-four completed surveys were received. Of these, 62 respondents reported using outcome measures in their CAM research and identified 92 different specific outcomes. The most important barriers were the fact that, for many health concepts, outcome measures do not yet exist, as well as issues related to accessibility of instruments. Important outcome domains identified included physical, psychological, social, spiritual, quality of life and holistic measures. Participants also mentioned the importance of individualized measures that assess unique patient-centered outcomes for each research participant, and measures to assess the context of healing and the process of healing.
We have developed a preliminary framework that includes all components of health-related outcomes. The framework provides a foundation for a larger, comprehensive collection of CAM outcomes. It fits very well in a whole systems perspective, which requires an expanded set of outcome measures, such as individualized and holistic measures, with attention to issues of process and context.
PMCID: PMC1661594  PMID: 17118197
21.  HOWDY: an integrated database system for human genome research 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(1):152-157.
HOWDY is an integrated database system for accessing and analyzing human genomic information ( HOWDY stores information about relationships between genetic objects and the data extracted from a number of databases. HOWDY consists of an Internet accessible user interface that allows thorough searching of the human genomic databases using the gene symbols and their aliases. It also permits flexible editing of the sequence data. The database can be searched using simple words and the search can be restricted to a specific cytogenetic location. Linear maps displaying markers and genes on contig sequences are available, from which an object can be chosen. Any search starting point identifies all the information matching the query. HOWDY provides a convenient search environment of human genomic data for scientists unsure which database is most appropriate for their search.
PMCID: PMC99130  PMID: 11752279
22.  Chiropractic care for paediatric and adolescent Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A systematic review 
Psychostimulants are first line of therapy for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD. The evidence suggests that up to 30% of those prescribed stimulant medications do not show clinically significant outcomes. In addition, many children and adolescents experience side-effects from these medications. As a result, parents are seeking alternate interventions for their children. Complementary and alternative medicine therapies for behavioural disorders such as AD/HD are increasing with as many as 68% of parents having sought help from alternative practitioners, including chiropractors.
The review seeks to answer the question of whether chiropractic care can reduce symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD.
Electronic databases (Cochrane CENTRAL register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic reviews, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Scopus, ISI Web of Science, Index to Chiropractic Literature) were searched from inception until July 2009 for English language studies for chiropractic care and AD/HD. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to select studies. All randomised controlled trials were evaluated using the Jadad score and a checklist developed from the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) guidelines.
The search yielded 58 citations of which 22 were intervention studies. Of these, only three studies were identified for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD cohorts. The methodological quality was poor and none of the studies qualified using inclusion criteria.
To date there is insufficient evidence to evaluate the efficacy of chiropractic care for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD. The claim that chiropractic care improves paediatric and adolescent AD/HD, is only supported by low levels of scientific evidence. In the interest of paediatric and adolescent health, if chiropractic care for AD/HD is to continue, more rigorous scientific research needs to be undertaken to examine the efficacy and effectiveness of chiropractic treatment. Adequately-sized RCTs using clinically relevant outcomes and standardised measures to examine the effectiveness of chiropractic care verses no-treatment/placebo control or standard care (pharmacological and psychosocial care) are needed to determine whether chiropractic care is an effective alternative intervention for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD.
PMCID: PMC2891800  PMID: 20525195
23.  Knowledge-based Methods to Help Clinicians Find Answers in MEDLINE 
Large databases of published medical research can support clinical decision making by providing physicians with the best available evidence. The time required to obtain optimal results from these databases using traditional systems often makes accessing the databases impractical for clinicians. This article explores whether a hybrid approach of augmenting traditional information retrieval with knowledge-based methods facilitates finding practical clinical advice in the research literature.
Three experimental systems were evaluated for their ability to find MEDLINE citations providing answers to clinical questions of different complexity. The systems (SemRep, Essie, and CQA-1.0), which rely on domain knowledge and semantic processing to varying extents, were evaluated separately and in combination. Fifteen therapy and prevention questions in three categories (general, intermediate, and specific questions) were searched. The first 10 citations retrieved by each system were randomized, anonymized, and evaluated on a three-point scale. The reasons for ratings were documented.
Metrics evaluating the overall performance of a system (mean average precision, binary preference) and metrics evaluating the number of relevant documents in the first several presented to a physician were used.
Scores (mean average precision = 0.57, binary preference = 0.71) for fusion of the retrieval results of the three systems are significantly (p < 0.01) better than those for any individual system. All three systems present three to four relevant citations in the first five for any question type.
The improvements in finding relevant MEDLINE citations due to knowledge-based processing show promise in assisting physicians to answer questions in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC2213491  PMID: 17712086
24.  Strengths and Limitations of Evidence-Based Dermatology 
Indian Journal of Dermatology  2014;59(2):127-133.
The need for understanding and reflecting on evidence-based dermatology (EBD) has never been greater given the exponential growth of new external evidence to inform clinical practice. Like any other branch of medicine, dermatologists need to acquire new skills in constructing answerable questions, efficiently searching electronic bibliographic databases, and critically appraising different types of studies. Secondary summaries of evidence in the form of systematic reviews (SR), that is, reviews that are conducted in a systematic, unbiased and explicit manner, reside at the top of the evidence hierarchy, because they are less prone to bias than traditional expert reviews. In addition to providing summaries of the best external evidence, systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are also powerful ways of identifying research gaps and ultimately setting the agenda of future clinical research in dermatology. But like any paradigm, EBD can have its limitations. Wrong application, misuse and overuse of EBD can have serious consequences. For example, mindless pooling together of data from dissimilar studies in a meta-analysis may render it a form of reductionism that does not make any sense. Similarly, even highly protocolised study designs such as SRs and RCTs are still susceptible to some degree of dishonesty and bias. Over-reliance on randomized controlled trials (RCT) may be inappropriate, as RCTs are not a good source for picking up rare but important adverse effects such as lupus syndrome with minocycline. A common criticism leveled against SRs is that these frequently conclude that there is lack of sufficient evidence to inform current clinical practice, but arguably, such a perception is grounded more on the interpretation of the SRs than anything else. The apparent absence of evidence should not paralyze the dermatologist to adopt a state of therapeutic nihilism. Poor primary data and an SR based on evidence that is not up-to-date are also limitations that can only improve with better primary studies and updated reviews such as those done by the Cochrane Collaboration. Most dermatologists are interested in integrating the best external evidence with the care of individual patients and have been practicing good EBD without realizing it.
PMCID: PMC3969670
Bias; dermatology; evidence-based; systematic review; trials; uncertainty
25.  Mood disorders and complementary and alternative medicine: a literature review 
Mood disorders are a major public health problem and are associated with considerable burden of disease, suicides, physical comorbidities, high economic costs, and poor quality of life. Approximately 30%–40% of patients with major depression have only a partial response to available pharmacological and psychotherapeutic interventions. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been used either alone or in combination with conventional therapies in patients with mood disorders. This review of the literature examines evidence-based data on the use of CAM in mood disorders. A search of the PubMed, Medline, Google Scholar, and Quertile databases using keywords was conducted, and relevant articles published in the English language in the peer-reviewed journals over the past two decades were retrieved. Evidence-based data suggest that light therapy, St John’s wort, Rhodiola rosea, omega-3 fatty acids, yoga, acupuncture, mindfulness therapies, exercise, sleep deprivation, and S-adenosylmethionine are effective in the treatment of mood disorders. Clinical trials of vitamin B complex, vitamin D, and methylfolate found that, while these were useful in physical illness, results were equivocal in patients with mood disorders. Studies support the adjunctive role of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid in unipolar and bipolar depression, although manic symptoms are not affected and higher doses are required in patients with resistant bipolar depression and rapid cycling. Omega-3 fatty acids are useful in pregnant women with major depression, and have no adverse effects on the fetus. Choline, inositol, 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan, and N-acetylcysteine are effective adjuncts in bipolar patients. Dehydroepiandrosterone is effective both in bipolar depression and depression in the setting of comorbid physical disease, although doses should be titrated to avoid adverse effects. Ayurvedic and homeopathic therapies have the potential to improve symptoms of depression, although larger controlled trials are needed. Mind-body-spirit and integrative medicine approaches can be used effectively in mild to moderate depression and in treatment-resistant depression. Currently, although CAM therapies are not the primary treatment of mood disorders, level 1 evidence could emerge in the future showing that such treatments are effective.
PMCID: PMC3660126  PMID: 23700366
complementary and alternative medicine; mood disorders; Ayurveda; homeopathy; integrative medicine

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