According to a survey of nearly 1,400 hospitals in the United States, more than one in four now offer complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), such as acupuncture, homeopathy and massage therapy. More and more mainstream hospitals and medical institutions are incorporating complementary and alternative medical therapies to meet growing consumer demand.
The survey, conducted and published by the American Hospital Association every two years, shows the percentage of hospitals offering one or more CAM services increased from 8% in 1998 to 27% in 2005.
“More and more, patients are requesting care beyond what most consider to be traditional health services,” say researchers Sita Ananth of Health Forum, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association, and William Martin, PsyD, of the College of Commerce at DePaul University in Chicago, in a 2006 AHA news release. “And hospitals are responding to the needs of the communities they serve by offering these therapies.”
Complementary and alternative medicine, as described by the survey, includes therapies not based on traditional allopathic medical teachings and may include acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, diet and lifestyle changes, herbal medicine, massage therapy, or others.
Are you thinking all these hospitals must be in Hollywood or Seattle? Not so! Contrary to popular belief, researchers found that complementary and alternative medicine offerings were most common in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin) and less common on the West Coast. The least common areas to offer CAM services were in the South (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee).
A larger percentage of hospitals offering alternative treatments were in urban areas, and most were larger facilities (greater than 100 beds).
Which alternative therapies led the pack? The top six outpatient therapies were massage therapy (71%); tai chi, yoga, or chi gong (47%); relaxation training (43%); acupuncture (39%); guided imagery (32%); and therapeutic touch (30%).
Top inpatient services were massage therapy (37%); music/art therapy (26%); therapeutic touch (25%); guided imagery (22%); relaxation training (20%); and acupuncture (11%).
SOURCES: WEBMD.com, and Ananth, S. “Health Forum 2005 Complementary and Alternative Medicine Survey of Hospitals,” July 19, 2006. News release, American Hospital Association.