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Kansas Achieves Licensing Law
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed House Bill 2615 into law on Friday, May 13, 2016. HB2615 includes provisions for the licensure of acupuncturists in the state of Kansas.
What's New in Phytonutrition: Mangifera Indica, "The King of Fruits"
One hundred percent pure Indian green mango fruit (mangifera indica), harvested at a special degree of ripeness for efficacy and taste, can now be concentrated as a phytonutrient nutraceutical powder.
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
Believe it or not, an estimated one-third of your patients have eaten some form of fast food within 24 hours of their appointment with you.
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
How to Stay Sane During the Elections: Understanding Through the Lens of Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine philosophy, everything consists of Yin and Yang. The law of polar opposites – one cannot exist without its opposite.
An MD Who Understands the Opioid Epidemic
Doctors of chiropractic have an important role to play in ending the opioid epidemic and dealing with chronic pain by conservative means (see our top story in this issue) – but who's to blame for opioid dependence and abuse in the first place?
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
Introducing the Acupuncture Today Digital Edition
In response to the changing habits of our readers, Acupuncture Today will introduce a digital edition of the publication (in addition to our print edition) beginning with the August 2016 issue.
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
March, 2016, Vol. 16, Issue 03
Becoming an Informed Consumer of Research: Basic Considerations
By Martha Brown Menard, PhD, LMT
Research is a fundamental aspect of every health care discipline. It supports the theoretical foundation of any discipline and helps to distinguish useful treatments and practices from those that offer no benefit or prove harmful. In addition, integrative health care therapies such as massage therapy, chiropractic and acupuncture have developed a sizable body of research to support their use. Research on the effectiveness of these therapies has helped facilitate their acceptance by conventional health care and the general public, and is a cornerstone of the shift towards evidence-informed practice across health care more generally.
Key to this acceptance is the effort to reduce language barriers between conventional health care and more person-centered, integrative approaches to health. As integrative practitioners are usually still in the minority within the larger health care system, it is particularly important that we be able to explain our work in terms that others can grasp. Understanding research greatly improves our ability to communicate effectively with other health professionals through a shared frame of reference and a common language. In addition to this general trend, there is also an increased tendency for massage therapists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, yoga therapists, and other practitioners to work in conventional health care settings as part of a team, or to become involved in multidisciplinary practices. With the growing trend towards interdisciplinary health care, the ability to communicate across disciplines will continue to assume greater importance.
Being able to locate and critically evaluate research in one's field is essential to providing the best possible care for clients. Evidence-informed practice is here to stay as the new standard across health care, and complementary and integrative therapies are being held to it. Because news about recent research is often reported in the popular media, clients or other health care providers may approach practitioners with questions about what implications a new study might have. It is incumbent upon practitioners to be able to discuss questions that arise from research in their field. Understanding how to evaluate research findings helps one to do this knowledgeably, with ease and confidence.
Research evidence has also assumed a major role in influencing health care policy on a national and international level. Policy decisions regarding what treatments are considered "best practices" and which will be reimbursed are increasingly based on research. Cost and consumer satisfaction have also become important study outcomes of interest. I believe that reading health care research offers every complementary practitioner a valuable tool for improving the quality of care you are able to offer your clients, and for ensuring that you and your loved ones receive the best possible health care. Understanding research is vital to the continued development of complementary therapies. And there is another yet important reason to become an informed consumer of research.
Science as a Social Activity
In evaluating the merit of any particular study, it's important to remember that science takes place via human interaction, through informal communication among colleagues with similar interests, more formal presentations and discussions at conferences, and publication of completed research findings in peer-reviewed journals. Knowledge-building is a social process just as much as it is a scientific one.
Because human beings are fallible, the social norms of science help to minimize the presence and/or influence of personal bias in the processes through which speculation becomes knowledge. These norms include an expectation of integrity in the design, conduct, interpretation, and publication of research studies. Peer review serves as an additional structure to maintain integrity. Journals do however have a tendency to prefer publishing studies with positive results. This tendency has been demonstrated and is known as "publication bias."
At the same time, as the number of university tenure-track jobs and the availability of grant funding decreases, there is increasing pressure for scientists to publish positive results. The blog Retraction Watch with support from the Center for Open Science has chronicled the rise in the number of scientific retractions since 2010 and maintains a database to document these. In the end, though, both honest mistakes and deliberate scientific fraud are eventually uncovered through peer review and the nature of how knowledge-building works. Knowledge-building is always provisional — in science, new information can always displace what we thought we knew previously.
Another example of scientific integrity is the practice among peer-reviewed journals of requiring disclosure of all sources of financial support for a study, so that readers can judge the extent to which the study could be biased because of who funded the research. As an example, a study concluding that smoking poses no substantial health risks in spite of numerous contradictory studies would be viewed even more suspiciously if it were funded by the Tobacco Institute. By the same token, research on herbs and dietary supplements has sometimes been viewed more critically when funded by companies that manufacture these products.
The philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn, articulated the idea that scientific world views or paradigms define the kinds of research questions that may legitimately be asked. What is thought to be "legitimate" can vary according to the social norms and assumptions of a culture and what is considered within that culture to be useful or important knowledge. Historians of science have detailed the ways in which the practice of science has sometimes been distorted by dominant cultural biases, such as the infamous Tuskegee study.
Ethics in Health Care Research
It is also important to define how research may legitimately be conducted, a subject that has been influenced by social norms and cultural bias as well. Present-day scientists involved in health care research have a code of ethical principles that must be applied to both human and animal research. With respect to human subjects, two of the most basic principles of ethical clinical research are to:
Experimental studies are especially susceptible to ethical concerns because they involve direct intervention by the researcher in the lives or health of the participants. For this reason, the researcher is expected to make every effort to protect the human rights and well-being of the study's participants. Current standards for research ethics have been formalized since World War II. In the U.S., the Nuremberg Code (1947) and the Declaration of Helsinki (1964, revised in 1975) became the foundation for the formation of the National Commission for Protection of Human Subjects and Behavioral Research. This commission produced a document known as the Belmont Report.
The Belmont Report proposes that three core values should underlie all research endeavors: respect for persons, beneficence, and justice. The practical implications of each value are:
An outgrowth of the Belmont Report was the development of U.S. government regulations requiring the establishment of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), to act as ethics committees to safeguard the rights of study participants. IRBs consider the scientific merit of proposed projects in light of the study's potential risks and benefits, and assess the procedures for selecting and recruiting participants, for ensuring appropriate informed consent, and for maintaining confidentiality of private health care information disclosed during the study. The IRB approves the proposed design of the study only if its benefits outweigh its risks, and then monitors the conduct of the study as it progresses. It is standard practice now for journals to require a statement from authors describing how ethical standards for the study were met when submitting a manuscript for publication.
Understanding the background concepts that underlie how scientific research is developed, carried out and reported can enhance our ability to be informed consumers of research. Just as it's important to not believe everything you read on the Internet, it's important to think critically when we read research.
Martha Brown Menard, PhD, LMT, is the director of the Crocker Institute and a licensed massage therapist in Kiawah Island, SC. She is the author of Making Sense of Research (available here). Martha is also the co-executive director of ACCAHC.
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