|If you’ve picked up a medical journal in the last few years, you’ve likely heard about complementary and alternative medicine—an increasing number of health care practices in Canada are offering such care on site as many more patients have come to request it. In fact, data from the Canadian Community Health Survey indicates that one-fifth of all Canadians have used some form of alternative care, and demand for such care continues to grow.In case you’ve skipped the journals, here’s a quick review. According to academic E. Ernst, who has studied this field extensively, complementary and alternative medicine is defined as “diagnosis, treatment and/or prevention which complements mainstream medicine by contributing to a common whole, by satisfying a demand not met by orthodoxy or by diversifying the conceptual frameworks of medicine. In plain English, this means that the service line extends but is not limited to prayer, aromatherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic care, colour therapy, pet therapy, music therapy, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture and herbal remedies and supplements.|
Some organizations have been slow to adopt this type of treatment, mainly because many of the complementary care methods and medicines have not been scientifically studied for effectiveness and in some cases, safety. Some complementary care efforts, like prayer, are extremely difficult to even attempt to study. However, it’s impossible to ignore that demand for these services is growing, which signals a need for health care providers to not just offer such services, but to speak about them knowledgeably in order to answer patient questions and concerns.
If your health care organization offers, supports, or is knowledgeable of complementary care, here are a few tips for ensuring successful integration and promotion:
Complementary care is in demand. In knowing what it is, what is safe and what is available to patients, not only are you ensuring their safety, but your organization might very well be positioned as leaders in providing the latest in care options.
“Health Reports: Use of alternative health care.” Statistics Canada. Web. 2 July 2010.
“Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM): A brief guide.” Toronto Public Library. Web. 2 July 2010.
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