Monday, January 05, 2009

More hospitals offering CAM programs

Hospitals across the nation are responding to patient demand and integrating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) services with the conventional services they normally provide, according to the results of a new survey released [September 15, 2008] by Health Forum, a subsidiary of the American Hospital Association (AHA). The survey shows that more than 37 percent of responding hospitals indicated they offer one or more CAM therapies, up from 26.5 percent in 2005. Additionally, hospitals in the southern Atlantic states led the nation in offering CAM services to the patients they serve, followed by east north central states and those in the middle Atlantic.

CAM is not based solely on traditional western allopathic medical teachings, and can include acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, diet and lifestyle changes, herbal medicine, massage therapy and more. CAM services also reflect hospitals' desire to treat the whole person-body, mind, and spirit.

"Complementary and alternative medicine has shown great promise in supporting and stimulating healing," said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. "It's one of the many tools hospitals look to as they continue to create optimal healing environments for the patients they serve."

According to the survey, 84 percent of hospitals indicated patient demand as the primary rationale in offering CAM services and 67 percent of survey respondents stated clinical effectiveness as their top reason.

"Today's patients have better access to health information and are demanding more personalized care," said study author Sita Ananth. "The survey results reinforce the fact that patients want the best that both traditional and alternative medicine can offer."

Other survey results include:

* Massage therapy is in the top two services provided in both outpatient and inpatient settings;
* The majority of hospitals that offered CAM were urban hospitals (72 percent) and were medium-sized (100-299 beds); and
* Most CAM services are not reimbursable by insurance and are paid for out-of-pocket by patients.

The third biannual survey was mailed in November 2007 to 6,439 U.S. hospitals. The report is available online at or by calling (800) 242-2626.

© 2008 American Hospital Association:

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