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IOM to study alternative, complementary medicine
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and 16 Federal cosponsors have unveiled plans for an Institute of Medicine (IOM) study of the scientific and policy implications of the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by the American public. The $1 million, nearly two-year study will be conducted by the IOM, a component of the National Academies.
The National Academies is a private, nonprofit, nongovernmental institution created by a congressional charter to be an advisory body for the nation on scientific and technological matters. The IOM draws upon volunteer panels of experts to examine policy matters regarding the public’s health. NCCAM, the primary sponsor of the study, is the federal government’s lead agency for scientific research on CAM.
The IOM will assemble a panel of approximately 16 experts from a broad range of CAM and conventional disciplines, such as behavioral medicine, internal medicine, nursing, epidemiology, pharmacology, health care research and administration, and education.
During the course of the study, the IOM panel will assess research findings, hold workshops, and invite speakers to address the panel, among other activities, in order to:
The value of undertaking this study emerged from discussions among members of the Trans-Agency CAM Coordinating Committee, chaired by Stephen E. Straus, MD, NCCAM director. The committee felt that the IOM had the expertise to critically consider questions of CAM research and policy.
"Americans use CAM therapies in record numbers," said Straus, when announcing the study. "The IOM’s report will give us a clearer understanding of the scope of CAM use by Americans, as well as CAM’s public health impact, and scientific and policy issues that will better inform our research decisions."
The IOM study, led by Lyla M. Hernandez, MPH, senior program officer for the Board on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, will not conduct new surveys of the public regarding CAM use. Rather, the IOM panel will gather and analyze existing data. In addition, the IOM study, which already has begun recruiting panel members, plans to address many key questions, such as these:
The answers to these questions and the information generated by the IOM panel of leading scholars drawn from both conventional medicine and CAM, and from education, should serve to complement the recommendations of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy released earlier this year.