Hospitals Offering Alternative Medicine
By Jennifer Warner
More than one in four U.S.
hospitals now offer alternative and complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, homeopathy, and massage
A new survey of nearly 1,400 U.S. hospitals
shows more mainstream medical institutions are providing complementary and alternative therapies to meet growing
"More and more, patients are requesting care
beyond what most consider to be traditional health services," say researchers Sita Ananth of Health Forum and
William Martin, PsyD, of the College of Commerce at DePaul University in Chicago, in a news release. "And hospitals
are responding to the needs of the communities they serve by offering these therapies."
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
includes therapies not based on traditional Western medical teachings and may include acupuncture, chiropractic,
homeopathy, diet and lifestyle changes, herbal medicine, and massage therapy, among others.
A 2002 CDC survey showed that more than half of
Americans thought combining CAM with conventional medicine would be helpful.
Alternative Medicine Going
conducted and published by the American Hospital Association every two years, shows the percentage of hospitals
offering one or more CAM services increased from 8 percent in 1998 to 27 percent in 2005.
Contrary to popular belief, researchers found
that complimentary and alternative medicine offerings were most common in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan,
Ohio, and Wisconsin) and less common on the West Coast. The least common areas to offer CAM services were in the
South (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee).
The top six complementary and alternative
medicine services offered on an outpatient basis among hospitals offering CAM were massage therapy (71 percent);
tai chi, yoga, or chi gong (47 percent); relaxation training (43 percent), acupuncture (39 percent); guided imagery
(32 percent), and therapeutic touch (30 percent).
Top inpatient services were massage therapy (37
percent), music/art therapy (26 percent), therapeutic touch (25 percent), guided imagery (22 percent), relaxation
training (20 percent), and acupuncture (11 percent).
Other findings of the survey
hospitals that offered CAM were in urban areas and were large or medium-sized (more than 100 beds).
Teaching hospitals accounted for 36 percent of
hospitals responding to the survey and offering CAM services, perhaps reflecting the finding in a 2004 study that
more than 3/4 of medical schools require a course in CAM.
Most hospitals offered their CAM services at
other locations while 37 percent provided them in a hospital wellness or fitness center.
Most CAM services are paid for by patients as
an out-of-pocket medical expense.
The survey was mailed to more than 6,000 U.S.
hospitals in December 2005.
Ananth, S. “Health Forum 2005 Complementary and
Alternative Medicine Survey of Hospitals,” July 19, 2006. News release, American Hospital