Hospitals Embrace Alternative Therapies

Western medicine is often perceived as conservative and traditional, and unwilling to consider alternate therapies. But a new study by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and nonprofit Samueli Institute says that hospitals are broadening their treatment horizons.

More than 4 in 10 of the hospitals surveyed indicated that they offer one or more complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies.

CAM includes acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, diet and lifestyle changes, herbal medicine and massage therapy. It’s the whole-person approach to wellness – body, mind and spirit.

“Hospitals have long known that what they do to treat and heal involves more than just medications and procedures,” said Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient safety at the AHA. “It is about using all of the art and science of medicine to restore the patient as fully as possible.”

According to the survey, patient demand and clinical effectiveness were the top reasons for offering CAM services.

Other survey results:

  • most respondents offer wellness services for patients and staff, including nutritional counseling, smoking cessation, fitness training and pastoral care;
  • massage therapy is in the top two services provided in both outpatient and inpatient settings;
  • more than 7 in 10 hospitals that offered CAM were in urban settings;
  • 3 in 4 cited budgetary constraints as the biggest obstacle for implementation of CAM programs.
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