Complementary and alternative medicine presented to Patient Centered Outcomes Institute (PCORI) Board of GovernorsWhen the Board of Governors of the new quasi governmental Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) met near Seattle, Washington, September 19, 2011, they included an unusual

Complementary and alternative medicine presented to Patient Centered Outcomes Institute (PCORI) Board of Governors 

When the Board of Governors of the new quasi-governmental Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) met near Seattle, Washington, September 19, 2011, they included an unusual complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) “listening session” in their agenda. The soon-to-be $600-million/year quasi-governmental agency has CAM as a mandated interest. The theme was represented by a panel that included Daniel Cherkin, PhD (Group Health Research Institute), Robert Mootz, DC (Washington State Department of Labor and Industries), Michelle Simon, PhD, ND (Washington State Office of Technology Assessment) and John Weeks (Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care). A dozen of the panel’s key arguments are described in this article. A key point was the alignment of PCORI’s focus on the patient with the orientation of whole practice disciplines. In comments following the presentation, Cherkin called PCORI’s work a sign of “real hope” for US medicine. Calabrese added that PCORI is “the most important work in health care research today.” Chiropractor and health services researcher Christine Goertz, DC, PhD sits on the PCORI Board. 

Comment: I was among those deeply impressed by the work PCORI has engaged. The Governors openly speak of their efforts as “culture change.” A main obstacle they identified and discussed is the closed mind of the conventional research and review communities. Some of their suggested strategies for overcoming the resistance are noted here. There is considerable irony in creating a research institute dedicated to a patient-centered approach. Shouldn’t virtually all medical research be patient-centered? If PCORI stays focused on the high-ground of patient-interests rather than succumbing to researcher comfort-zones, this agency could be extremely influential in (finally) exploring health-enhancing, integrative models of treatment.