Sunday, August 28, 2011

Will Alternative Health Care Ever Become Mainstream?

About 75 percent of U.S. health workers use alternative healing methods, according to the News site on August 26. Compare that to 38 percent of the general public using alternative, sometimes referred to as holistic, healing methods. The most striking finding is that doctors and nurses are more than twice as likely to use the services of an alternative health practitioner than health workers in other areas, such as technical and administrative departments.

These statistics arose from a survey conducted in 2007 under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health. Researchers at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing with the Allina Health System in Minneapolis analyzed the findings and published their study in the journal Health Services Research.

Alternative health care, also referred to as complementary medicine, can include such areas as nutritional supplementation, diet, acupuncture, yoga, massage, chiropractic, herbal medicine, naturopathy, homeopathy and many other areas of interest. The researchers listed 36 types of care included in the study. The most common reasons given for seeking alternative care were back, neck and joint pain.

The study's leader noted that the prevalent belief has always been that alternative therapies aren't as well researched or evidence-based as traditional medical science, but that has changed in recent years. If medical professionals are taking advantage of alternative services more often, it should help people feel more comfortable discussing their needs, concerns and desires with their physicians.

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