Are the CAM professions engaging in high-level health and medical research? Trends in publicly funded complementary medicine research grants in Australia

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Journal Article
Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2013, 21 (6), pp. 746 - 749
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Introduction: Developing research capacity is an essential part of professional development in the health professions, as well as essential to improving health care delivery. CAM is one area in which the importance of research capacity has been previously highlighted. Methods: To determine whether academic and research CAM practitioners were actively engaged in high-level CAM research in Australia successful National Health and Medical Research Council grants data for projects starting between 2000 to present (2013) were collated and analyzed. Results: CAM practitioners are not involved in most NHMRC-funded research, with non-clinical academics leading nearly half of all NHMRC-funded CAM grants. Conventional medical practitioners led the majority of CAM grants headed by clinicians. Only Chinese medicine and naturopathy practitioners appear to be building capacity, with NHMRC-funded CAM grants led by these practitioner groups increasing. University CAM faculties are for the most part not engaging in high level research, with most NHMRC-funded CAM projects being led by groups outside these faculties. Even the majority NHMRC-funded research led by CAM clinicians is administered outside university CAM faculties. Conclusions: The CAM professions have a low level of engagement with high-level health and medical research in Australia. Current levels of engagement appear to be dependent more on individual clinician involvement rather than professional strategy. Failure to engage with high-level health and medical research may pose challenges for the CAM professions, unless research engagement is improved. This requires an active and concerted effort from within CAM ranks to build research capacity in the CAM professions. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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