Complementary and Alternative Medicine Development Initiative

Complementary and alternative medicine has potential for integration in the standard package of Canadian health services, but must be based on rigorous evidence


The purpose of this project was to gauge the views of policy makers on integrating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) into mainstream health care. The Canadian Institute of Natural and Integrative Medicine (CINIM) noted that nearly half of Canadians accessed CAM services such as chiropractic, physiotherapy, and homeopathy, typically at their own expense. Through semi-structured interviews, CINIM undertook to identify what policy makers in British Columbia and Alberta identified as the roadblocks to integrating traditional medical services and CAM services, and how they recommended overcoming these barriers. Other substantive research projects were conducted to test the success of CAM systems in treating disorders, all in order to demonstrate the viability of integrating CAM methods into traditional health care delivery.

Grant Outputs

Preferred Models of Integrative Care: A Survey of CAM practitioners and General Medical Practitioners –

This study examines the opinions of practicing general practitioners (GPs) and CAM providers about providing traditional medical care alongside various CAM practices in Alberta and British Columbia. The results show that a majority of both doctors and CAM practitioners prefer a more integrated system of care delivery, where both parties work equally and as a team to determine the best path for patient care. CAM practitioners preferred the current system of independent health care delivery over the possibility of GP supervision, and only a minority of GPs showed a preference for the supervisory model. The report concludes that if an integrative health model is to be pursued in the western provinces, a collaborative approach will most closely align with the preferences of CAM practitioners and GPs.

Towards Integration: The Opinions of Health Policy Makers on Complementary and Alternative Medicine –

This study explores what healthcare policy makers in Canada thought about integrating CAM health services into conventional health care provision. The study employed face-to-face interviews with ten provincial government policy makers from British Columbia and Alberta, and identified a number of themes. These include focusing on preventative methods in CAM, the economic issues of integrating new services, and the need for scientific evidence to support CAM methodology. Policy makers support movement towards integrative health services, but the issue of evidence-based CAM research and standards of accreditation and training for CAM practitioners must be addressed. Policy officials suggested that the issue of who pays for CAM services would be greatly influenced by the degree to which CAM systems could be shown to effectively and safely improve patient outcomes in a cost-effective way.

A Spirituality Program for Depression: A randomized controlled trial –

This report examines the outcomes for unipolar major depression patients who undertook a spirituality teaching program alongside their antidepressant medication treatments. Eighty-four individuals were recruited and randomly assigned to two different groups – a spirituality group that undertook a home-based spirituality teaching program, and a wait-list control group. Test results showed that those who were treated with the at-home spirituality program demonstrated a response rate of 36% to their antidepressant treatment, and a remission rate of 31%. The control group, on the other hand, experienced a 4.4% response rate to their medication, and 2.2% remission rate from the solo application of antidepressant medication.

A Spirituality Program for Emotional Distress – a randomized controlled trial –

This report documents the results of a randomized controlled trial undertaken to determine whether emotionally distressed patients had significantly reduced mood disturbance and improved mental health as the result of an 8 week audio course on spirituality. One group attended 8 weeks of guided meditation classes, and the other was treated as a waitlist control group. The results show that the 8 week spiritual teaching program reduces total mood disturbance, tension, anger and fatigue for up to 12 weeks compared with the control group.

Grant Details

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