Evidence-Based Benefits of Complementary Health Practices

Monday, 22 July 2013

Mychell G. Zepeda, RN, MSN
5 Crescent Cardiac Surgical, Methodist Medical Center/Bradley University, Peoria, IL

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to define what complementary health practice is, as well as identify its practitioners.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to realize the benefits of utilizing complementary health practices.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to define complementary health practices and the disciplines it entails, and demonstrate the increase in its popularity as a conjunction with Western or conventional medicine to form an integrative approach to health and well-being.

Methods: This study was a review of peer reviewed literature and surveys that provided definitions and examples of complementary health practices used as a member of the integrative health team.

Results: It was found that complementary health practices has many variations to its definition but is more commonly defined  as stated by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine as; a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not normally considered to be conventional medicine but rather “Folk Medicine”. In the past alternative forms of medicine and therapies were not taught at American medical schools, these techniques were not available in hospitals, and these services were often not billable or reimbursed by insurance companies.  Due to the new emerging evidence in the safety and effectiveness of complementary health practices, more than one-half of American medical schools now offer alternative therapy courses, many hospitals are offering these therapies, and an increasing number of third-party payers are now offering reimbursement.  The number of complementary health practitioners is on the rise.  These include but are not limited to Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Naturopathic Doctors, and licensed Massage Therapists.

Conclusion: Typically, complementary health practices are an adjunct to mainstream medical care.  One of the main reasons that people choose complementary health practices is because it is a relationship-based care that focuses on the person as a whole, and complementary health therapists offer them personal attention and therapies that are consistent with their values, beliefs, and philosophical views toward health and life.