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1.  Non-verbal communication of compassion: measuring psychophysiologic effects 
Background
Calm, compassionate clinicians comfort others. To evaluate the direct psychophysiologic benefits of non-verbal communication of compassion (NVCC), it is important to minimize the effect of subjects' expectation. This preliminary study was designed to a) test the feasibility of two strategies for maintaining subject blinding to non-verbal communication of compassion (NVCC), and b) determine whether blinded subjects would experience psychophysiologic effects from NVCC.
Methods
Subjects were healthy volunteers who were told the study was evaluating the effect of time and touch on the autonomic nervous system. The practitioner had more than 10 years' experience with loving-kindness meditation (LKM), a form of NVCC. Subjects completed 10-point visual analog scales (VAS) for stress, relaxation, and peacefulness before and after LKM. To assess physiologic effects, practitioners and subjects wore cardiorespiratory monitors to assess respiratory rate (RR), heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) throughout the 4 10-minute study periods: Baseline (both practitioner and subjects read neutral material); non-tactile-LKM (subjects read while the practitioner practiced LKM while pretending to read); tactile-LKM (subjects rested while the practitioner practiced LKM while lightly touching the subject on arms, shoulders, hands, feet, and legs); Post-Intervention Rest (subjects rested; the practitioner read). To assess blinding, subjects were asked after the interventions what the practitioner was doing during each period (reading, touch, or something else).
Results
Subjects' mean age was 43.6 years; all were women. Blinding was maintained and the practitioner was able to maintain meditation for both tactile and non-tactile LKM interventions as reflected in significantly reduced RR. Despite blinding, subjects' VAS scores improved from baseline to post-intervention for stress (5.5 vs. 2.2), relaxation (3.8 vs. 8.8) and peacefulness (3.8 vs. 9.0, P < 0.05 for all comparisons). Subjects also had significant reductions in RR (P < 0.0001) and improved HRV (P < 0.05) with both tactile and non-tactile LKM.
Conclusion
It is possible to test the effects of LKM with tactile and non-tactile blinding strategies; even with blinding in this small preliminary study, subjects reported significant improvements in well-being which were reflected in objective physiologic measures of autonomic activity. Extending compassion is not only good care; it may also be good medicine.
Trial registration number
US National ClinicalTrials.gov registration number, NCT01428674
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-132
PMCID: PMC3260157  PMID: 22185349
2.  How do parents of children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) perceive their therapies? 
Background
Complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies are commonly used by pediatric patients with chronic medical conditions. Little is known about parents' perceptions of these therapies. This study describes the views of parents of patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) regarding conventional and CAM therapies.
Methods
Parents of children with JIA seen at a pediatric rheumatology clinic were surveyed between June 1 and July 31, 2007. Questionnaires asked about patients' use of over 75 therapies in the past 30 days, their perceived helpfulness (0 = not helpful; 3 = very helpful), perceived side effects (0 = none; 3 = severe), and whether each therapy would be recommended to other patients with JIA (Yes, No, Not sure).
Results
Questionnaires were returned by 52/76 (68%) parents; patients' average age was 10.9 years and 87% were Caucasian. Medications were used by 45 (88%) patients; heat (67%) and extra rest (54%) were also commonly used. CAM therapies were used by 48 (92%), e.g., massage (54%), vitamins and other supplements (54%), avoiding foods that worsened pain (35%) and stress management techniques (33%). Among the therapies rated by 3 or more parents, those that scored 2.5 or higher on helpfulness were: biologic medications, methotrexate, naproxen, wheelchairs, orthotics, heat, vitamins C and D, music, support groups and prayer. CAM therapies had 0 median side effects and parents would recommend many of them to other families.
Conclusion
JIA patients use diverse therapies. Parents report that many CAM therapies are helpful and would recommend them to other parents. These data can be used in counseling patients and guiding future research.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-25
PMCID: PMC2424030  PMID: 18518962
3.  Does pharmaceutical advertising affect journal publication about dietary supplements? 
Background
Advertising affects consumer and prescriber behaviors. The relationship between pharmaceutical advertising and journals' publication of articles regarding dietary supplements (DS) is unknown.
Methods
We reviewed one year of the issues of 11 major medical journals for advertising and content about DS. Advertising was categorized as pharmaceutical versus other. Articles about DS were included if they discussed vitamins, minerals, herbs or similar products. Articles were classified as major (e.g., clinical trials, cohort studies, editorials and reviews) or other (e.g., case reports, letters, news, and others). Articles' conclusions regarding safety and effectiveness were coded as negative (unsafe or ineffective) or other (safe, effective, unstated, unclear or mixed).
Results
Journals' total pages per issue ranged from 56 to 217 while advertising pages ranged from 4 to 88; pharmaceutical advertisements (pharmads) accounted for 1.5% to 76% of ad pages. Journals with the most pharmads published significantly fewer major articles about DS per issue than journals with the fewest pharmads (P < 0.01). Journals with the most pharmads published no clinical trials or cohort studies about DS. The percentage of major articles concluding that DS were unsafe was 4% in journals with fewest and 67% among those with the most pharmads (P = 0.02). The percentage of articles concluding that DS were ineffective was 50% higher among journals with more than among those with fewer pharmads (P = 0.4).
Conclusion
These data are consistent with the hypothesis that increased pharmaceutical advertising is associated with publishing fewer articles about DS and publishing more articles with conclusions that DS are unsafe. Additional research is needed to test alternative hypotheses for these findings in a larger sample of more diverse journals.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-11
PMCID: PMC2322947  PMID: 18400092
4.  Factors and common conditions associated with adolescent dietary supplement use: an analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 
Background
Little is known about the prevalence of dietary supplement (DS) use in American adolescents. We conducted this study to analyze the prevalence of DS use and factors associated with this use in a national population-based sample.
Methods
We used data from the 1999 – 2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) for adolescents age 11 to 19. Using weighted logistic regression, we identified demographic and clinical factors associated with the use of any DS, vitamins or minerals, herbs and other DS.
Results
Among the 5,306 responses representing approximately 36 million Americans 11–19 years old, 27% reported use of one or more DS in the prior month. The most commonly used DS were: multivitamins (16%) and vitamin C (6%). In the multivariable analysis, African American [adjusted odds ratio 0.40 (0.31–0.50) 95% CI] and Mexican American [0.55 (0.44–0.69)] adolescents were less likely to use DS compared with non-Hispanic whites. DS use was more common in those who used prescription medications [1.37 (1.10–1.72)] and among those who had a diagnosis of chronic headaches [1.25 (1.04–1.50)]. DS use was less common among those reporting fair or poor health status [0.59 (0.40–0.88)].
Conclusion
Twenty seven percent of American adolescents use DS. DS use is higher among teens that use prescription medications; physicians and pharmacists should be aware of this, ask patients, and check for potential interactions.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-9
PMCID: PMC2330139  PMID: 18377653
5.  Factors Associated with herb and dietary supplement use by young adults in the United States 
Background
Little is known about the association between use of herbs and dietary supplements (HDS) and lifestyle/behavior factors in young adults in the US.
Methods
Analyzing the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), we examined the patterns of HDS (excluding vitamins/minerals) use among young adults in the United States using descriptive statistics and logistic regression.
Results
In our sample of 18 to 30 year olds (n = 6666), 26% were current smokers, 24% were moderate/heavy drinkers, 43% had high physical activity, and 54% and 76% use prescription and over the counter (OTC) medications respectively. Non-vitamin, non-mineral HDS was used by 17% of the overall sample in the last 12 months. In the multivariable analysis, the lifestyle and behavioral factors associated with HDS use include: current smoking (odds ratio 1.41 95% CI [1.16–1.72]); being a former smoker (1.50 [1.15–1.95]); moderate/heavy alcohol use (2.02 [1.53–2.65]); high physical activity levels (2.45 [1.98–3.03]); and prescription medication use (1.51 [1.26–1.81]). Among HDS users, only 24% discussed their use with a health care professional.
Conclusion
Nearly one in five young adults report using non-vitamin/non-mineral HDS.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-7-39
PMCID: PMC2213683  PMID: 18053129
6.  Changes in use of herbs and dietary supplements (HDS) among clinicians enrolled in an online curriculum 
Background
Little is known about clinicians' use of herbs and dietary supplements (HDS), how their personal HDS use changes with time and training, and how changes in their personal use affect their confidence or communication with patients about HDS.
Methods
We conducted a prospective cohort study of clinicians before and after an on-line curriculum about HDS in winter-spring, 2005.
Results
Of the 569 clinicians who completed surveys both at baseline and after the course, 25% were male and the average age was 42 years old; 88% used HDS before and after the course. The average number of supplements used fell slightly from 6.2 at baseline to 5.8 after the course (P < 0.01). The most commonly used supplements at baseline were: multivitamins (65%), calcium (42%), B vitamins (34%), vitamin C (34%), green tea (27%), fish oil (27%) and vitamin E (25%). Use of fish oil increased to 30% after the course (P = 0.01). Use of supplements traditionally used to treat colds decreased: vitamin C (34% to 27%), zinc (13% to 10%), and echinacea (7% to 5%, P < 0.05 for all three). Changes in personal HDS use were not associated with significant changes in confidence or communication with patients.
Conclusion
Many clinicians use HDS personally; use changes seasonally and to a small extent with professional education. Professional use of HDS is dynamic and seasonal. Additional research is needed to understand the impact of personal use on professional attitudes and behavior in populations with lower baseline uses of HDS.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-7-21
PMCID: PMC1904461  PMID: 17565695
7.  What do clinicians want? Interest in integrative health services at a North Carolina academic medical center 
Background
Use of complementary medicine is common, consumer driven and usually outpatient focused. We wished to determine interest among the medical staff at a North Carolina academic medical center in integrating diverse therapies and services into comprehensive care.
Methods
We conducted a cross sectional on-line survey of physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants at a tertiary care medical center in 2006. The survey contained questions on referrals and recommendations in the past year and interest in therapies or services if they were to be provided at the medical center in the future.
Results
Responses were received from 173 clinicians in 26 different departments, programs and centers. There was strong interest in offering several specific therapies: therapeutic exercise (77%), expert consultation about herbs and dietary supplements (69%), and massage (66%); there was even stronger interest in offering comprehensive treatment programs such as multidisciplinary pain management (84%), comprehensive nutritional assessment and advice (84%), obesity/healthy lifestyle promotion (80%), fit for life (exercise and lifestyle program, 76%), diabetes healthy lifestyle promotion (73%); and comprehensive psychological services for stress management, including hypnosis and biofeedback (73%).
Conclusion
There is strong interest among medical staff at an academic health center in comprehensive, integrated services for pain, obesity, and diabetes and in specific services in fitness, nutrition and stress management. Future studies will need to assess the cost-effectiveness of such services, as well as their financial sustainability and impact on patient satisfaction, health and quality of life.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-7-5
PMCID: PMC1802091  PMID: 17291340
8.  Dietary supplement use among health care professionals enrolled in an online curriculum on herbs and dietary supplements 
Background
Although many health care professionals (HCPs) in the United States have been educated about and recommend dietary supplements, little is known about their personal use of dietary supplements and factors associated with their use.
Methods
We surveyed HCPs at the point of their enrollment in an on-line course about dietary supplements between September, 2004 and May, 2005. We used multivariable logistic regression to analyze demographic and practice factors associated with use of dietary supplements.
Results
Of the 1249 health care professionals surveyed, 81 % reported having used a vitamin, mineral, or other non-herbal dietary supplements in the last week. Use varied by profession with highest rates among nurses (88%), physician assistants or nurse practitioners (84 %) and the lowest rates among pharmacists (66%) and trainees (72%). The most frequently used supplements were multivitamins (60%), calcium (40%), vitamin B (31%), vitamin C (30%), and fish oil (24%). Factors associated with higher supplement use were older age, female, high knowledge of dietary supplements, and discussing dietary supplements with patients. In our adjusted model, nurses were more likely than other professionals to use a multivitamin and students were more likely to use calcium.
Conclusion
Among HCPs enrolled in an on-line course about dietary supplements, women, older clinicians, those with higher knowledge and those who talk with patients about dietary supplements had higher use of dietary supplements. Additional research is necessary to understand the impact of professionals' personal use of dietary supplements on communication with patients about them.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-21
PMCID: PMC1526756  PMID: 16768802
9.  Expertise about herbs and dietary supplements among diverse health professionals 
Background
Herbs and other dietary supplements are among the most commonly used complementary medical therapies. However, clinicians generally have limited knowledge, confidence and communication about herbs and dietary supplements (HDS). We compared diverse clinicians' expertise about HDS to better target future curricula.
Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, dietitians and trainees in these professions prior to e-curriculum about HDS in 2004–2005. The survey had 28 questions about knowledge, 19 questions about their confidence and 11 questions about their communication practices about HDS.
Results
Of the 1,268 participants, 25% were male; the average age was 40 years. Mean scores were 66% correct for knowledge; 53/95 on the confidence scale and 2.2 out of possible 10 on the communication practices scale. On average, scores were lowest for those who used fewer HDS; and trainees and nurses compared with physicians, pharmacists and dietitians (P<0.01 for all comparisons).
Conclusion
Clinicians have moderate levels of knowledge and confidence, but poor communication skills about HDS. Future curricula about HDS should target nurses, students, practitioners and those not currently using HDS. Research is needed to determine the most cost-effective educational strategies for diverse health professionals.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-15
PMCID: PMC1557537  PMID: 16646964

Results 1-9 (9)