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1.  Meaning and challenges in the practice of multiple therapeutic massage modalities: a combined methods study 
Background
Therapeutic massage and bodywork (TMB) practitioners are predominantly trained in programs that are not uniformly standardized, and in variable combinations of therapies. To date no studies have explored this variability in training and how this affects clinical practice.
Methods
Combined methods, consisting of a quantitative, population-based survey and qualitative interviews with practitioners trained in multiple therapies, were used to explore the training and practice of TMB practitioners in Alberta, Canada.
Results
Of the 5242 distributed surveys, 791 were returned (15.1%). Practitioners were predominantly female (91.7%), worked in a range of environments, primarily private (44.4%) and home clinics (35.4%), and were not significantly different from other surveyed massage therapist populations. Seventy-seven distinct TMB therapies were identified. Most practitioners were trained in two or more therapies (94.4%), with a median of 8 and range of 40 therapies. Training programs varied widely in number and type of TMB components, training length, or both. Nineteen interviews were conducted. Participants described highly variable training backgrounds, resulting in practitioners learning unique combinations of therapy techniques. All practitioners reported providing individualized patient treatment based on a responsive feedback process throughout practice that they described as being critical to appropriately address the needs of patients. They also felt that research treatment protocols were different from clinical practice because researchers do not usually sufficiently acknowledge the individualized nature of TMB care provision.
Conclusions
The training received, the number of therapies trained in, and the practice descriptors of TMB practitioners are all highly variable. In addition, clinical experience and continuing education may further alter or enhance treatment techniques. Practitioners individualize each patient's treatment through a highly adaptive process. Therefore, treatment provision is likely unique to each practitioner. These results may be of interest to researchers considering similar practice issues in other professions. The use of a combined-methods design effectively captured this complexity of TMB practice. TMB research needs to consider research approaches that can capture or adapt to the individualized nature of practice.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-75
PMCID: PMC3187727  PMID: 21929823
2.  Exploring consumer and pharmacist views on the professional role of the pharmacist with respect to natural health products: a study of focus groups 
Background
Natural health products (NHPs) such as herbs, vitamins and homeopathic medicines, are currently available for sale in most Canadian pharmacies. However, most pharmacists report that they have limited knowledge about these products which have been regulated in Canada as a specific sub-category of drugs. In this paper, consumers' and practicing pharmacists' perceptions of pharmacists' professional responsibilities with respect to NHPs are examined.
Methods
A total of 16 focus groups were conducted with consumers (n = 50) and pharmacists (n = 47) from four different cities across Canada (Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Halifax).
Results
In this paper, we illustrate the ways in which pharmacists' professional responsibilities are impacted by changing consumer needs. Many consumers in the study utilized a wide range of information resources that may or may not have included pharmacists. Nevertheless, the majority of consumers and pharmacists agreed that pharmacists should be knowledgeable about NHPs and felt that pharmacists should be able to manage drug-NHPs interactions as well as identify and evaluate the variety of information available to help consumers make informed decisions.
Conclusion
This paper demonstrates that consumers' expectations and behaviour significantly impact pharmacists' perceptions of their professional responsibilities with respect to NHPs.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-40
PMCID: PMC2483265  PMID: 18625059
3.  Integrative medicine: a tale of two clinics 
Background
Integrative medicine (blending the best of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) with conventional medicine) is becoming increasingly popular.
Objectives
The objectives of this paper are to compare and contrast the development of two teams that set out to establish integrative medical clinics, highlighting key issues found to be common to both settings, and to identify factors that appear to be necessary for integration to occur.
Methods
At St Michael's Hospital (an inner-city teaching hospital in Toronto, Canada), a total of 42 interviews were conducted between February 2004 and August 2006 wi18 key participants (4 administrators, 2 chiropractors, 2 physiotherapists and 10 family physicians). At the CARE (Complementary and Alternative Research and Education) Program at Stollery Children's Hospital, Edmonton, Canada, 44 interviews were conducted with 24 people on four occasions: June 2004, March 2005, November 2006, and June 2007. Basic content analysis was used to identify the key themes from the transcribed interviews.
Results
Despite the contextual differences between the two programs, a striking number of similar themes emerged from the data. The five most important shared themes were: 1) the necessity of "champions" and institutional facilitators to conceive of, advocate for, and bring the programs to fruition; 2) the credibility of these champions and facilitators (and the credibility of the program being established) was key to the acceptance and growth of the program in each setting; 3) the ability to find the "right" practitioners and staff to establish the integrative team was crucial to each program's ultimate success; 4) the importance of trust (both the trustworthiness of the developing program as well as the trust that developed between the practitioners in the integrative team); and 5) the challenge of finding physical space to house the programs.
Conclusion
The programs were ultimately successful because of the credibility of the champions, institutional facilitators and the staff members. Selection of excellent clinicians who were able to work well as a team facilitated the establishment of trust both within the team itself as well as between the team and the host institution.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-32
PMCID: PMC2443104  PMID: 18564418
4.  A systematic review of natural health product treatment for vitiligo 
BMC Dermatology  2008;8:2.
Background
Vitiligo is a hypopigmentation disorder affecting 1 to 4% of the world population. Fifty percent of cases appear before the age of 20 years old, and the disfigurement results in psychiatric morbidity in 16 to 35% of those affected.
Methods
Our objective was to complete a comprehensive, systematic review of the published scientific literature to identify natural health products (NHP) such as vitamins, herbs and other supplements that may have efficacy in the treatment of vitiligo. We searched eight databases including MEDLINE and EMBASE for vitiligo, leucoderma, and various NHP terms. Prospective controlled clinical human trials were identified and assessed for quality.
Results
Fifteen clinical trials were identified, and organized into four categories based on the NHP used for treatment. 1) L-phenylalanine monotherapy was assessed in one trial, and as an adjuvant to phototherapy in three trials. All reported beneficial effects. 2) Three clinical trials utilized different traditional Chinese medicine products. Although each traditional Chinese medicine trial reported benefit in the active groups, the quality of the trials was poor. 3) Six trials investigated the use of plants in the treatment of vitiligo, four using plants as photosensitizing agents. The studies provide weak evidence that photosensitizing plants can be effective in conjunction with phototherapy, and moderate evidence that Ginkgo biloba monotherapy can be useful for vitiligo. 4) Two clinical trials investigated the use of vitamins in the therapy of vitiligo. One tested oral cobalamin with folic acid, and found no significant improvement over control. Another trial combined vitamin E with phototherapy and reported significantly better repigmentation over phototherapy only. It was not possible to pool the data from any studies for meta-analytic purposes due to the wide difference in outcome measures and poor quality ofreporting.
Conclusion
Reports investigating the efficacy of NHPs for vitiligo exist, but are of poor methodological quality and contain significant reporting flaws. L-phenylalanine used with phototherapy, and oral Ginkgo biloba as monotherapy show promise and warrant further investigation.
doi:10.1186/1471-5945-8-2
PMCID: PMC2432048  PMID: 18498646
5.  Becoming the best mom that I can: women's experiences of managing depression during pregnancy – a qualitative study 
BMC Women's Health  2007;7:13.
Background
The purpose of this constructivist grounded theory study was to develop a theoretical model that explains women's processes of managing diagnosed depression when pregnant.
Methods
We explored the experiences of 19 women in Ontario who were diagnosed with depression during their pregnancy.
Results
The model that emerged from the analysis was becoming the best mom that I can. Becoming the best mom that I can explains the complex process of the women's journey as they travel from the depths of despair, where the depression is perceived to threaten their pregnancy and their ability to care for the coming baby, to arrive at knowing the self and being in a better place. In order to reground the self and regain control of their lives, the women had to recognize the problem, overcome shame and embarrassment, identify an understanding healthcare provider, and consider the consequences of the depression and its management. When confronting and confining the threat of depression, the women employed strategies of overcoming barriers, gaining knowledge, and taking control. As a result of counseling, medication, or a combination of both, women felt that they had arrived at a better place.
Conclusion
For many women, the idea that depression could occur during pregnancy was antithetical to their vision of the pregnant self. The challenge for a pregnant woman who is diagnosed with depression, is that effective care for her may jeopardize her baby's future health. This provides a dilemma for about-to-be parents and their healthcare providers. Improved awareness of depression during pregnancy on the part of healthcare professionals is needed to improve the women's understanding of this disorder and their ability to recognize and seek help with depression should it occur during the prenatal period. Further qualitative research is needed to determine the specific aspects that need to be addressed in such classes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6874-7-13
PMCID: PMC2048943  PMID: 17848199
6.  Trends in complementary/alternative medicine use by breast cancer survivors: Comparing survey data from 1998 and 2005 
BMC Women's Health  2007;7:4.
Background
Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by women with breast cancer is often said to be increasing, yet few data exist to confirm this commonly held belief.
The purpose of this paper is to compare overall patterns of CAM use, as well as use of specific products and therapies at two different points in time (1998 vs 2005) by women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Methods
Surveys were mailed to women randomly selected from the Ontario Cancer Registry (Canada) in the spring of 1998 (n = 557) and again in the spring of 2005(n = 877).
Results
The response rates were 76.3% in 1998 and 63% in 2005. In 1998, 66.7% of women reported using either a CAM product/therapy or seeing a CAM therapist at some time in their lives as compared with 81.9% in 2005 (p = 0.0002). Increases were seen in both use of CAM products/therapies (62% in 1998 vs. 70.6% in 2005) and visits to CAM practitioners (39.4% of respondents in 1998 vs 57.4% of respondents in 2005). Women in 2005 reported that 41% used CAM for treating their breast cancer. The most commonly used products and practitioners for treating breast cancer as reported in 2005 were green tea, vitamin E, flaxseed, vitamin C, massage therapists and dietitians/nutritionists.
Conclusion
CAM use (both self-medication with products and visits to CAM practitioners) increased significantly from 1998 to 2005. Now that more than 80% of all women with breast cancer report using CAM (41% in a specific attempt to management their breast cancer), CAM use can no longer be regarded as an "alternative" or unusual approach to managing breast cancer.
doi:10.1186/1472-6874-7-4
PMCID: PMC1851951  PMID: 17397542
7.  Practice patterns of naturopathic physicians: results from a random survey of licensed practitioners in two US States 
Background
Despite the growing use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by consumers in the U.S., little is known about the practice of CAM providers. The objective of this study was to describe and compare the practice patterns of naturopathic physicians in Washington State and Connecticut.
Methods
Telephone interviews were conducted with state-wide random samples of licensed naturopathic physicians and data were collected on consecutive patient visits in 1998 and 1999. The main outcome measures were: Sociodemographic, training and practice characteristics of naturopathic physicians; and demographics, reasons for visit, types of treatments, payment source and visit duration for patients.
Result
One hundred and seventy practitioners were interviewed and 99 recorded data on a total of 1817 patient visits. Naturopathic physicians in Washington and Connecticut had similar demographic and practice characteristics. Both the practitioners and their patients were primarily White and female. Almost 75% of all naturopathic visits were for chronic complaints, most frequently fatigue, headache, and back symptoms. Complete blood counts, serum chemistries, lipids panels and stool analyses were ordered for 4% to 10% of visits. All other diagnostic tests were ordered less frequently. The most commonly prescribed naturopathic therapeutics were: botanical medicines (51% of visits in Connecticut, 43% in Washington), vitamins (41% and 43%), minerals (35% and 39%), homeopathy (29% and 19%) and allergy treatments (11% and 13%). The mean visit length was about 40 minutes. Approximately half the visits were paid directly by the patient.
Conclusion
This study provides information that will help other health care providers, patients and policy makers better understand the nature of naturopathic care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-4-14
PMCID: PMC529271  PMID: 15496231

Results 1-7 (7)