John Weeksby John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports
  
NIH NCCAM 2.0: Taylor Walsh reports on the renaming dialogue at NCCAM’s June 2014 National Advisory Council meeting

The proposed re-naming of the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is a powerful cultural moment for the field. In this article, Naming NCCAM 2.0, integrative health and medicine writer and consultant Taylor Walsh documents the dialogue on the topic at the June 2014 meeting of the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine – that may shortly also be renamed. Here are views of Josephine Briggs, MD, Brian Berman, MD, Tracy Gaudet, MD, Scott Haldeman, MD, DC, Dan Cherkin, PhD, and others. As Walsh reports, the MD-dominant council preferred to let go of “complementary” though Briggs defended the need for inclusion suggested by this term, as did Haldeman, the one DC on Council.  Briggs, Berman, and Gaudet were among those who argued for an “integrative health” focus.

by John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports


NIH NCCAM 2.0: Taylor Walsh reports on the renaming dialogue at NCCAM’s June 2014 National Advisory Council meeting

The proposed re-naming of the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is a powerful cultural moment for the field. In this article, Naming NCCAM 2.0, integrative health and medicine writer and consultant Taylor Walsh documents the dialogue on the topic at the June 2014 meeting of the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine – that may shortly also be renamed. Here are views of Josephine Briggs, MD, Brian Berman, MD, Tracy Gaudet, MD, Scott Haldeman, MD, DC, Dan Cherkin, PhD, and others. As Walsh reports, the MD-dominant council preferred to let go of “complementary” though Briggs defended the need for inclusion suggested by this term, as did Haldeman, the one DC on Council.  Briggs, Berman, and Gaudet were among those who argued for an “integrative health” focus.

Comment: This topic is juicy, and provocative. In my response to Walsh’s excellent report, I noted the limits of the dialogue now that the non-MD “CAM” professional representation has been reduced from 50% plus in the early years to 6% of those presently on the Council or 11% when Haldeman is included. I also challenge the apparent assertion that “integrative” is a term better recognized by consumers than “alternative.” (The agency is ultimately supposed to serve the people and thus calling it something that is recognizable makes a difference.) Finally, I explore one member’s comment about how the agency’s move to “integrative” alone can “erase the conflicts” that may come inside health systems and academic centers, and perhaps inside some of these MDs/DOs body-minds, when “complementary” or (heaven forbid) “alternative” is in the title. Is this airbrushing from our history?

NCCAM’s Dr. Edwards’ reflects on the posters at the International Research Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health

A recent e-newsletter from the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (NCCAM) featured a blog-post from the highly-regarded director of the division of extramural research, Emmeline Edwards, PhD. Edwards wrote on the May 2014 iteration of the International Research Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health with her comment focused on the extensive poster displays: “I was brought to the realization that we could strive for better balance in the science featured in the IRCIMH poster presentations. The clinical research posters outnumbered the basic research presentations 3:1, and research on mind and body strategies dominated the research landscape.” Edwards then adds: “One concern is that many clinical research projects were not developed from adequate mechanistic studies and, hence, the outcomes from these projects may not be very informative, provide a well defined path for the next study, or give direction for future research programs.” She encouraged responses.


Comment: The posting troubled me, as it did the two respondents who speak to the value of qualitative methods and clinical outcomes for this arena. It is curious that Edwards brought up all the mind-body work in this way since mind-body represents the lion’s share of the clinical work NCCAM has funded. Researchers are no dummies and tend to follow the money. More importantly, the density of the clinical posters, relative to basic science, reflects what investigators and clinicians think requires research. The posters may be viewed as a litmus test of the community. One would hope that NCCAM should be responsive to this rather than impose its view that complementary and integrative medicine should focus elsewhere. Perhaps NCCAM could move toward clinical interests (that is a kind way of saying what patients care about) rather than the field move toward NCCAM’s kow-towing to NIH’s love of basic research and mechanism. In addition, clinical outcomes are much more clearly useful to Section c of the NCCAM mandate, the principal guidance from Congress, which may be considered another voice for what patients care about. Frustrating. I wonder what Edwards, Briggs and their NCCAM team find as priorities if they were to assume that the call of Don Berwick, MD for something “more radical than we have imagined” also applied to NCCAM’s research agenda. Surely they would move more rapidly toward the urgency of clinical research and real world solutions.

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