Process of care in outpatient Integrative healthcare facilities: a systematic review of clinical trials

Publication Type:
Journal Article
BMC Health Services Research, 2015, 15 (1)
Issue Date:
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© 2015 Grant et al. Abstract Background: Patients currently integrate complementary medicine (CM) and allopathic, choosing a combination of therapies rather than a single therapy in isolation. Understanding integrative healthcare (IHC) extends beyond evaluation of specific therapies to encompass evaluations of multidisciplinary complex interventions. IHC is defined as a therapeutic strategy integrating conventional and complementary medical practices and practitioners in a shared care setting to administer an individualized treatment plan. We sought to review the outcomes of recent clinical trials, explore the design of the interventions and to discuss the methodological approaches and issues that arise when investigating a complex mix of interventions in order to guide future research. Method: Five databases were searched from inception to 30 March 2013. We included randomized and quasi-experimental clinical trials of IHC. Data elements covering process of care (initial assessment, treatment planning and review, means for integration) were extracted. Results: Six thousand two hundred fifty six papers were screened, 5772 were excluded and 484 full text articles retrieved. Five studies met the inclusion criteria. There are few experimental studies of IHC. Of the five studies conducted, four were in people with lower back pain. The positive findings of these studies indicate that it is feasible to conduct a rigorous clinical trial of an integrative intervention involving allopathic and CM treatment. Further, such interventions may improve patient outcomes. Conclusions: The trials in our review provide a small yet critical base from which to refine and develop larger studies. Future studies need to be adequately powered to address efficacy, safety and include data on cost effectiveness.
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