There has been much discussion amongst members of the healthcare community about the possibility of an integrated healthcare service, with complementary therapies being offered as an alternative, more natural approach to treatment. So far though, nothing has really come from these discussions, despite over a fifth of the population spending over £500 million a year on natural therapies.
The problem: A lack of research methods to test the efficacy of complementary therapies.
Complementary healthcare goes much further than conventional medicine and aims to relieve symptoms of illness by taking a holistic view of health and improving the wellbeing of the individual. In some cases, it is not even a particular disease which the individual is seeking therapy for, but conditions such as insomnia, anxiety or depression which are not always helped by drug therapy. Finding adequate research methods with the highest standards of methodological rigour is particularly difficult in these cases. Responses to therapy are often different depending on both the individual and the practitioner; many changes are unmeasurable by the scientific methods used in conventional medicine and all we really have to go on is the reported evidence from the recipient of the treatment.
These problems cause a hinderance to the work of organisations such as CCH. We know that the work our therapists do with each individual is incredibly important and that the benefits can dramatically improve the lives of those living with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. You only have to speak with our beneficiaries to understand how complementary therapies have helped them. However, in the wider community, with budgets being tightened and an increasing need for solid qualitative and quantitative research into outcomes, there is less money available from government funded institutions.
We believe that complementary healthcare is worth investing in. However, with a lack of evidence-based research it is proving hard to secure funding. All we can do is collect as much information about the benefits of complementary therapy as possible and present it to the wider community, in the hope that attitudes will change.
We want to know what your opinion is about the future of Complementary Therapy. Should it be given the same consideration and financial investment as conventional medicine? Feel free to leave your replies below.
For further information about research into complementary healthcare treatments:
Evaluating complementary medicine: methodological challenges of randomised controlled trials http://www.bmj.com/content/325/7368/832.1.full