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TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
January, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 01
Economic Evaluation of CAM/CIM Practices
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
Contributed by MK Brennan MS, RN, LMBT; Jolie Haun, PhD EdS, LMT, April Neufeld, BS, LMT
In this month's review, the Massage Therapy Foundation's writing group selected a study done in 2012 that evaluates the economy of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), also referred to as Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM).This review is timely given the non-discrimination section of the Affordable Care Act is set to go into effect on January 1, 2014. Section 2706 provides a possibility for insurance reimbursement for massage therapy: "A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall not discriminate with respect to participation under the plan or coverage against any health care provider who is acting within the scope of that provider's license or certification under applicable State law."
The objective of the review done by Herman et al., was to establish the value of complementary and integrative therapies within the health reform context. Numerous sources including PubMed, CINAHL, AMED, Psych Info, Web of Science and EMBASE, were searched for information published between 2001 and 2010. The Cochrane complementary and alternative medical group was used for determining the criteria for studies and all of the sources reporting economic outcomes were reviewed with the terms "integrative," "integrated" and "collaborative" medicine added to the search. Three hundred, thirty-eight (338) economic evaluations were identified and 204 of those were published between 2001 and 2010. One hundred, fourteen (114) of the 204 were full economic evaluations with 90% of those being studies of single therapies. Only one study compared usual care to usual care with access to CIM practitioners.
Surveys done in 1990, 1997 and 2007 show estimated out of pocket expenditures of $14 billion, $27 billion and $34 billion for CAM to treat principal medical conditions. This indicates an increase in the use of CAM for healthcare and the willingness of individuals to pay for it. The cost-effectiveness of CAM use, however, has not been well defined. As the authors explain, "Economic evaluations allow costs to be included, alongside data on safety and effectiveness, in healthcare policy decisions. As healthcare costs rise, the availability of these economic evaluations becomes increasingly important to the formulation of disease management strategies which are both clinically effective and financially responsible." This type of evaluation provides massage therapists and other CAM practitioners information that is valuable when meeting with conventional healthcare providers, insurance providers, policy makers, consumers and other stakeholders.
Articles were categorized as full or partial economic reviews. A full evaluation compared the costs, as well as the outcomes, of two or more therapeutic treatments for the same population. A partial evaluation was one that focused on cost-identification or cost-comparison. The authors used the 35-item British Medical Journal checklist to capture components of internal validity and transferability of information. They "also chose five quality criteria by which to identify a subset of full economic evaluations to highlight as being of most interest to policy makers." These include a comparison of CAM to usual and customary care; use of at least one recognized perspective such as hospital or third-party payer; randomized control studies or non-randomized ones that are adjusted to address baseline differences; a measured outcome unless the study was a modeling one that used the data from previously published studies; a sensitivity analysis since assumptions made can factor into uncertainties in economic evaluations.
Items reviewed from the studies that met the above criteria included: "treatment and study duration, primary clinical and economic outcome measures, the setting in which treatment took place, study design and sample size, the type and perspective (i.e., the point of view used to define costs) of the economic analysis, and incremental cost effectiveness of the CIM alternative compared to usual care."
Results of the analysis are mixed. Thirty-one of the full economic studies were considered a higher-quality than the others because they met all five of the study criteria. These indicate potential cost effectiveness and even cost savings across a number of CIM therapies and populations. "Of the 56 comparisons made in the higher-quality studies, 16 (29%) show a health improvement with cost savings for the CIM therapy versus usual care. Study quality of the cost-utility analyses (CUAs) of CIM was generally comparable to that seen in CUAs across all medicine according to several measures, and the quality of the cost-saving studies was slightly, but not significantly, lower than those showing cost increases (85% vs 88%, p=0.460)."
Other studies reviewed provide information for specific practices and/or settings. For example, cost savings were seen with acupuncture for breech presentations in pregnant women and also for low back pain. Other cost savings were found with some supplements, naturopathic care, Tai Chi and manual therapy.
The methods used in this article are comprehensive and applied multiple measures of study quality in the review of the articles. However, the authors recognize some study limitations, including: 1. The reviewers not blinded to journals and article authors; and 2. Publication bias was not assessed. However, the authors suggest for the purposes of this review, it is not clear if either of these limitations is relevant.
This report and those like it are valuable to those interested in making a case for the inclusion of CAM in healthcare settings or insurance reimbursement as well as consumer awareness. As the use of CAM increases and policies change to increase reimbursement of CAM care, economical evaluations of this type are needed to determine the use and cost effectiveness of CAM in the healthcare setting.
To learn more about the economic impact of CAM, you can review the Massage Therapy Foundation article archives, read accepted MTF Research Grant abstracts, or search Pub Med for CAM/CIM cost analysis studies.
Click here for more information about Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor.
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