NCCAM announces CAM research career development award

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) in Bethesda, MD, has announced a research career development award for CAM practitioners. This award was created in partnership with The Bernard Osher Foundation in San Francisco, CA, and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through a grant to the foundation.

The award will provide financial support for a sustained period of three, four, or five years of "protected time" for intensive research career development under the guidance of an experienced research mentor in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences. Throughout this period, awardees will be able to launch independent careers in CAM research and become competitive for other NIH and NCCAM research funding.

To be eligible, principal investigators may be US citizens or non-citizen nationals, or individuals lawfully admitted for permanent residence, who hold a CAM health professional doctoral degree, have a strong desire to pursue a career in CAM research, and can commit a minimum of 75% of full-time professional effort to conducting research and relevant research career development activities. Eligible CAM health professional doctoral degrees (CAM clinical doctorate) include, but are not limited to, Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND), and Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM).

For details about eligibility, instructions on how to apply, and review criteria see the program announcement PAR-07-003 (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-07-003.html), or the NCCAM Web site, nccam.nih.gov.


Women use acupuncture often in conjunction with conventional medicine

A recent study shows that women who use acupuncture often use it in conjunction with conventional medicine. In addition, they tend to use acupuncture for conditions not commonly well-treated by conventional medicine, such as chronic pain.

In this study, researchers wanted to examine the correlates of recent acupuncture use among American women. They applied a sociobehavioral model of utilization of conventional health care, and also examined patterns of use, satisfaction, and reasons for acupuncture use.

To begin their research, they used the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which included the Alternative Health/Complementary Alternative Medicine Supplement. All analyses and estimates used the NHIS individual-level sampling weights, the researchers say. They adjusted the variance estimates to account for complex sample design, and also used bivariate statistics and logistic regression.

The study results included data from 17,112 women. Although prevalence of recent acupuncture use was low (1.1%), it translated to more than 1.2 million American women. Multivariate results which showed the effects of race and ethnicity on acupuncture use were contingent on educational level, the researchers say. Women living in the West were more likely to use acupuncture, as were women with fair health status, former smokers, current moderate/heavy alcohol users, and women with a higher body mass index.

Predisposing and enabling factors, as well as medical need and personal health practices, are associated with women's recent use of acupuncture services, including several that are also associated with conventional health care services, the researchers conclude. For more information on this study, see the journal Women's Health Issues. The study was published online Dec. 7.


Minority Chicago communities are enthusiastic users of several CAM modalities

CAM modalities could be important adjuncts to traditional medical treatment of arthritis pain for minority communities, according to research in the November/ December 2007 issue of the Clinical Journal of Pain. The study found that older residents of largely African-American communities in Chicago were enthusiastic users of relaxation, massage, and nutritional and dietary techniques.

Researchers wanted to compare the use of CAM for arthritis between two ethnically distinct metropolitan Chicago community areas. They conducted a telephone interview survey of adults age 45 years or above living in North (88.9% white) or South (79.7% African American) areas. Of 763 respondents, 405 reported arthritis or chronic joint symptoms, and were asked about use and satisfaction with seven CAM therapies.

The researchers found that South Chicago respondents had a higher prevalence and more severe arthritis symptoms, such as mean joint pain and more functional limitations. Use of CAM therapy by South Chicago respondents, most commonly massage and relaxation techniques, was 10% greater than North Chicago respondents (61.5% to 51%). However, this was not significantly different.

Among CAM users, South Chicago respondents reported higher satisfaction with six of the seven CAM therapies and greater future interest in CAM therapies. Poor overall health status, arthritis pain, and concomitant use of prescription medications were the only significant predictors of CAM use.