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Alternative medicine.

Chiropractic, acupuncture, herbs, massage, homeopathy--once considered the domain of outsiders and eccentrics--have emerged as mainstream therapies. In response to increased interest in alternative medicine, the National Institutes of Health launched a branch to study the efficacy and safety of holistic approaches to health care. The scientific community, which includes traditional medicine, requires hard research to back claims of therapeutic benefits and safety. Since then, the emergence of alternative clinics and practitioners, as well as traditional health care providers who give a nod to alternative therapies, have drawn holistic medicine into mainstream medical practice. Insurance providers have even begun to offer coverage for certain alternative options.

Results of a national study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association indicate that patients who use alternative medicine do so largely because it is more consistent with their philosophy and worldview than traditional medicine. Disappointment in traditional health care was not a predictor for seeking alternative settings. Instead, predictors of the use of alternative health care include: higher education status; poorer health status; a holistic orientation to health; an experience which changed the person's worldview; certain health problems including anxiety, chronic pain, back problems, and urinary tract problems; and an orientation to environmentalism, feminism, spirituality and personal growth.

Forty percent of the randomly selected respondents reported using alternative health care during the previous year. Although those individuals may be over-represented in the survey, (those choosing non-traditional health care providers may also be more inclined to participate in the survey) it is still a large chunk of medical care from outside traditional sources. The use of alternative health care is a trend that will probably continue to impact the medical establishment and the delivery of health care services in the future.

(The Journal of the American Medical Association, 1998, Vol. 279, No. 19, pp. 1548-1553)
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Title Annotation:survey results
Publication:Running & FitNews
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 1999
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