MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Maria T. Chao, DrPH, MPA
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Osher Center for Integrative Medicine
& Division of General Internal Medicine – SFGH
San Francisco, CA 94143-1726
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Chao: Many Americans use complementary and integrative health (CIH) approaches to help them manage the symptoms of chronic diseases. To date, most of these treatments are only available in outpatient clinics. In this study, we asked oncology inpatients which of 12 different CIH approaches they currently use or have tried in the past, and also which approaches they would like to be available in the hospital. We found that 95% of patients had tried at least one complementary and integrative health approach in the past, and that a similarly high number were interested in accessing these services as an inpatient. More than three quarters of our sample expressed interest in receiving nutritional counseling and massage during their hospital stay, and approximately half were interested in acupuncture, biofeedback, and mindfulness meditation.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Chao: In our study, we found rates of complementary and integrative health use among oncology patients to be even higher than previously reported. Furthermore, we demonstrated that most patients want these treatments to be available in the hospital as well as the clinic. Given the growing evidence for certain CIH approaches to treat symptoms like pain and anxiety so prevalent in the inpatient setting, hospitals should expand their capacity to offer these treatments.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Chao: There are many opportunities for further research on complementary and integrative health in the hospital. We need to learn more about how integrative medicine treatments affect patient outcomes. For example, how does the availability of complementary and integrative health approaches impact symptom severity, patient satisfaction, length of stay, rates of readmission, and cost of care? Another important area is implementation research, to explore how best to incorporate CIH approaches into inpatient medicine.
Liu Rhianon, Chang Alexandra, Reddy Sanjay, Hecht Frederick M., and Chao Maria T.. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. -Not available-, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/acm.2015.0061.
Maria T. Chao, DrPH, MPA (2015). Many Hospitalized Oncology Patients Would Like Complementary Health Treatments