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Hospitals Add Alternative Healthcare Choices

WebMD reported on July 20, 2006 that 25% of United States Hospitals now offer what they called, "Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies." This data comes from a new survey of nearly 1400 US hospitals showing this trend. Researchers Sita Ananth of Health Forum, an affiliate with the American Hospital Association, and William Martin, PsyD, of the College of Commerce at DePaul University in Chicago, commented, "A growing number of patients are requesting care beyond what most say is traditional health services, and hospitals are answering the needs of the communities they serve through providing these therapies." This article defines Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) as including acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, lifestyle and diet changes, herbal medicine, and massage therapy. However, many within the chiropractic profession claim chiropractic mustn't be classified as an "alternative medicine" since it is an independent and unique health profession.

The American Hospital Association conducts this survey every couple of years. These surveys have demostrated a large increase, noting that the portion of hospitals offering one or more CAM services have risen from 8% in 1998 to 27% in 2005. This trend may perhaps be in response to consumer requests. In 2002 a survey from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, indicated that more than half of Americans thought combining non medical health care with traditional medicine could be helpful.
 
The study found in this most recent study that complimentary and alternative healthcare offerings were most popular in the Midwest, and less common in the West Coast with the South being the very least common areas to provide CAM services in hospitals. The study reported that teaching hospitals had the highest usage with 36% offering these types of services. This might coincide with the idea that according to a 2004 study more than 75% of medical schools now require a course in CAM. Oddly enough, while there is an increased trend toward offering these types of services, the research noted that a lot of of these CAM services are paid for by the patients themselves as an out-of-pocket medical expense, and not covered by insurance.

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