Nearly two-thirds of people over 50 are currently using Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), but less than a third of this population discuss it with their health care providers. This gap in dialogue estranges CAM practices from individuals' overall treatment, and leaves much to be desired in doctor-patient relationship. To ensure optimal health care management physicians need to be aware of all courses of treatment that their patients pursuing, and clearly, at present, this is occurring on a far too irregular basis.
Seeing such a disparity between the treatments patients are engaged in and their doctor's knowledge of these treatments, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has initiated the Time to Talk campaign to encourage patients and health care providers to openly discuss the use of alternative practices. An open dialogue of this sort should further safe, complimentary, and coordinated care between conventional treatments and CAM therapies. The initiation of this discussion is the responsibility of both the health care provider and the patient, and the NCCAM is offering educational resources for all parties concerned:
"NCCAM's Time to Talk campaign encourages patients to
tell their providers about CAM use and providers to ask about it
by offering tools and resources — such as wallet cards, posters,
and tip sheets — all of which are available for free on the
NCCAM Web site (nccam.nih.gov)
or can be ordered from NCCAM's information Clearinghouse (1-888-644-6226).
NCCAM is reaching out to professional associations and consumer
organizations to help educate their members about the importance
of this dialogue and the availability of NCCAM's campaign materials.
As the Federal government's lead agency for scientific research
on CAM, NCCAM is committed to educating both consumers and health
care providers about the importance of discussing CAM and providing
evidence-based information to help with health care decision making.
Patient Tips for Discussing CAM with Providers
- When completing patient history forms, be sure to include all
therapies and treatments you use. Make a list in advance.
- Tell your health care providers about all therapies or treatments — including
over-the-counter and prescription medicines, as well as herbal
and dietary supplements.
- Take control. Don't wait for your providers to ask about your
- If you are considering a new CAM therapy, ask your health care
providers about its safety, effectiveness, and possible interactions
with medicines (both prescription and over-the-counter).
Provider Tips for Discussing CAM with Patients
- Include a question about CAM use on medical history forms.
- Ask your patients to bring a list of all therapies they use,
including prescription, over-the-counter, herbal therapies, and
other CAM practices.
- Have your medical staff initiate the conversation."
There are some more Time to Talk materials here at the National Institutes for Health Page, and the original news release, with further details, is here.