Hospitals offering alternative medicine tripled, based on patient demand

Forty-two percent of hospitals reported that they provide complementary and alternative medical services (CAM), according to a recent report by American Hospital Assocication's Health Forum and the Samueli Institute. That number has tripled since 2000 with healthcare executives citing rising patient demand as the primary driver for offering such services, reports American Medical News.

"The reasons hospitals choose to offer CAM services is quite revealing," states the report. "Patient demand (85 percent) is by far the primary rationale in offering these services." Seventy percent of respondents said they find alternative medicine to be clinically effectively. Many hospitals (58 percent), including faith-based organizations, also said that caring for the "whole person" was part of their organizations' missions.

Thirty-eight percent of surveyed adults said they have used some form of complementary and alternative therapy, according to the report. Aside from praying, the most popular methods were natural products, deep breathing, meditation, chiropractic care, massage, yoga, and diet, usually to treat back or neck pain, joint paint or stiffness, and anxiety or depression.

In addition, more medical schools are offering educational programs around nutrition, mental relaxation, acupuncture, magnet therapy, and mind-body techniques, reports U.S. News and World Report. Schools with dedicated CAM classes or programs include the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, San Mateo Medical Center, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, University of Arizona, and University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Despite about three-fourths of hospitals that offer such services saying they are clinically effective, some medical professionals remain skeptical.

For instance, the American Medical Association (AMA) questions the benefits. In a policy, AMA states, "There is little evidence to confirm the safety or efficacy of most alternative therapies," reports amednews.

For more information:
- read the amednews article
- check out the report (.pdf)
- read the U.S. News & World Report article

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