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 Physicians Divided on Impact of CAM on U.S. Health Care; Aromatherapy Fares Poorly; Acupuncture Touted 
by Healthy News - 9/29/2005
Flemington, NJ, July 5, 2005 — A new national survey of more than 700 physicians revealed that they are divided evenly on the impact of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) on U.S. health care. Approximately 36% believe it has a negative impact, 35% believe it has a positive impact and 20% feel CAM has no impact.

Despite their close division on the impact of CAM on U.S. health care, 64% of doctors reported that they have recommended complementary treatments to their patients, while 36% indicated they have not. Sixty-three percent would be willing to recommend them under some circumstances and 65% believe that the National Institutes of Health should fund research on CAM.

The survey which probed physicians' views on controversial techniques such as acupuncture, therapeutic touch and homeopathy, was conducted by HCD Research and The Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religion and Social Studies of The Jewish Theological Seminary, during September 1-2. The margin of error for the study was plus or minus 3% at a 95% level of confidence.

The well-known alternative and complementary therapies including acupuncture, chiropractic and massage received higher marks for their effectiveness than treatments such as aromatherapy, electromagnetic field therapies, homeopathy and naturopathy.

Among the findings:

  • More than half of the physicians (59%) believed that acupuncture can be effective to some extent.
  • Nearly half of the physicians (48%) believed that chiropractic can be effective, while 29% indicated that it is ineffective, and 57% of physicians reported that massage therapies can be effective.
  • A mere 10% of physicians reported aromatherapy to be effective. Similarly, only 12% indicated that electromagnetic field therapies were effective, and 16% of physicians believed that homeopathy and naturopathy were effective to some degree.
  • While a plurality of doctors (46%) felt that alternative approaches could be helpful to patients in some cases, 28% felt that they could be harmful. Thirteen percent believed that the putative helpfulness of CAM was due to the placebo effect.

"The one trait that all complementary and alternative therapies share is the fact that they are not conventionally used," noted Glenn Kessler, co-founder and managing partner, HCD Research. "However, they are not all the same and as we see in this study, physicians clearly recognize that each therapy must be judged on its own merits."

"The message here is that techniques, like acupuncture, which have made it into the mainstream, are recognized by physicians as useful complements to scientific medicine," said Dr. Alan Mittleman, Director of the Finkelstein Institute. "Other therapies remain on the fringe and are viewed with suspicion. Nonetheless, physicians seem willing to let their patients -- and future research -- decide what has credibility and what doesn't."

To view detailed results for this poll, please go to:

Provided by Healthy News on 9/29/2005
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