AAMA Newsletter available vie e-mail
Tired of the volume of letters, bills and other material that you receive in your mail box each day? Wish there were a way to reduce it? Well now there is! Members can now receive the AAMA Newsletter via e-mail. Not only will you get the issues much quicker than members receiving it in the mail, but this also will save AAMA money by reduced printing and postage costs. To receive newsletters electronically, contact Membership Coordinator Natalie Ortiz (email@example.com, 323/937-5514, ext. 20).
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CIGNA loses class action suit
As many medical acupuncturists may be aware, insurance companies have begun denying claims for acupuncture, even when it is a covered benefit. The logic for the denial is that acupuncture is not "medically necessary," or "experimental," unless it is performed for the treatment of nausea secondary to chemotherapy, surgical anesthesia or pregnancy. This narrow focus is taken directly from the National Institutes of Health 1997 position statement on acupuncture.
However, CIGNA — in a recent class action suit brought in the United Stated District Court for the southern District of Florida, Miami Division — will now be forced to pay these claims that were previously denied.
Another very important stipulation of this suit is the reversal of "Claim coding and bundling edits" denial of office visits billed in conjunction with medical procedures (i.e., medical acupuncture).
More information regarding this matter, and instructions for filing a claim, can be found at www.cignaphysiciansettlement.com or by calling Settlement Administrator (877/683-9363).
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AAMA plans 2005 Symposium, creates acupuncture CPT codes
By Nader E. Soliman, MD, FAAMA
EXCITING YEAR BEING PLANNED
As fall approaches, I hope that all of you had a wonderful summer. While many of us have enjoyed the holidays during summer, a small volunteer group of our members have been working extremely hard to prepare for our next Symposium. Recently, we have enjoyed many outstanding symposia, and the Academy is determined to continue to offer its members the highest possible quality in medical acupuncture continuing education.
The 17th Annual Symposium will be held in Atlanta, GA April 1-3, 2005 (with a Review Course March 29-30 and Pre-Symposium workshops on March 31, 2005) at Hilton Atlanta. It promises to continue the trend and present some of the most respected speakers on both the national and international arena. As the upcoming Symposium is expected to have record attendance, I urge all of you to mark your calendar and make early arrangements to be part of this historical meeting. The hotel room rate, cutoff and phone number for reservations can be found in the events calendar.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the effort and sacrifice of the following members of the Symposium Committee: Drs. Tapan Chaudhry, Elizabeth Sebestyen, Thomas Burgoon, William Clearfield, Jan Hendryx, Pam Avery, Michael Green, Yuan-chi Lin, Claudia Cooke, Roberto Jodorkovsky and Robert Gross.
ACUPUNCTURE CPT CODES
As you might be aware, the Academy has been actively involved in creating new practical acupuncture CPT codes for the upcoming years, and I am pleased to announce that such efforts have been successful in describing clearly what is involved in the acupuncture treatment sessions. Hopefully, these new CPT codes will result in better reimbursement for acupuncture services. I would like to thank Marshall H. Sager, DO, FAAMA, and AAMA Executive Administrator Jim Dowden for their relentless efforts and the considerable time spent working on this project.
The newly created Research Committee, under the leadership of Richard Niemtzow, MD, PhD, MPH, has been quite active in planning for practical ways to encourage and promote research in medical acupuncture. The committee also is studying plans to establish regular international research symposia in medical acupuncture. Members interested in joining this committee—especially those who are in academic institutions—are encouraged to contact Dr. Niemtzow (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Best wishes to all of you.
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AAMA seeking volunteers to serve on committees
The Academy is a member-driven organization. Members of AAMA, serving on the Board of Directors or on Committees advising the Board, are making the decisions regarding programs and activities that set the future for the Academy.
All Academy members are invited — and encouraged — to take part in this volunteer governance process. This is your organization. Members can take on a small task that is important but where the time commitment is clearly defined, or they can take on a more significant role by becoming involved as a member of a standing committee or Board where activities will be more varied and spread over multiple months.
Whatever your level of interest and available time, there is an opportunity for participation. For a list of committees and task forces, visit www.medicalacupuncture.org and click on "Volunteer for Committees" to learn more about the role of each, and then submit your name for any that are of interest. The Academy will contact you to determine your interest and how best to utilize your unique skills.
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Members achieve Board Certification in acupuncture
The following AAMA members recently met the stringent requirements of the American Board of Medical Acupuncture (ABMA) and have achieved Board Certification in medical acupuncture. They have earned the designation DABMA (Diplomate, American Board of Medical Acupuncture):
Joanne Borg-Stein, MD, DABMA, Newton, MA; Henry Dela Torre, MD, DABMA, Sykesville, PA; Constance Greene, MD, DABMA, Amherst, NY; Mark W. Mancuso, MD, DABMA, Claymont, DE; Isabel Martinez, MD, DABMA, Katy, TX; Michael K McKinney, Cottonwood, AZ; James T. Mulry, MD, DABMA, Cromwell, IN; Daniel P. Ostermiller, MD, DABMA, McCall, ID; Vikas Passi, MD, DABMA, New Columbia, PA; Mitchell Prywes, MD, DABMA, Danbury, CT; Elizabeth R. Ryan, MD, DABMA, Greenwich, CT; Emanuel Stein, MD, DABMA, Norfolk, VA, and Lawrence C.L. Wan, MD, DABMA, Chino Hills, CA
American Board of Medical Acupuncture Chair Hiroshi Nakazawa, MD, FAAMA, reports that as of Aug. 1, there are 352 designees of ABMA. Thirty physicians were added since the last report, to whom he extends a heartfelt welcome to ABMA. Ninety-one applicants are in the process of becoming Board Certified as a Diplomate.
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Still time to join ICMART delegation
The International Council on Medical Acupuncture and Related Techniques (ICMART), "Education - Research - Practice," has an exciting lineup planned in Australia in October.
Australian Drs. Danny Traum and Chin Chan and the Australian Medical Acupuncture College (AMAC) are finalizing details for the ICMART XI World Medical Acupuncture Congress Oct. 1-4 in Sydney, Australia at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel (formerly the ANA) in the historic Rock's district, with spectacular views of Sydney Harbor and the famous Sydney Opera House.
There will be concurrent sessions (on tongue diagnosis, shoulder pain, neck pain and back pain), plenary sessions, research papers, clinical papers, workshops, posters, a Congress dinner, social events and more. A two-to-three hour special meeting will be convened for educators so that Colleges and Societies from across the world can exchange ideas.
ICMART Vice President Bryan L. Frank, MD, FAAMA, will join renowned international speakers Toshikatsu Yamamoto of Japan, Dr. Steven K.H. Aung of Canada, Dr. Francois Beyens of Belgium, Dr. Michael Butler of New Zealand, Prof. Zang-Hee Cho of California, Dr. Jacqueline Filshie of the UK, Prof. Ji-sheng Han of the People's Republic of China and Prof. Thomas Lundeberg of Sweden.
Pre- and post-ICMART stays and activities are also available to AAMA members by contacting Harvey World Travel Surfers Paradise — the official congress travel agent — at email@example.com or 61-7-5539 0333.
Additional information on this Congress is available from Des Kennedy, conference organizer (firstname.lastname@example.org, +61 7 3295 9565, fax +61 7 3295 9566), on the ICMART and AMAC websites online at www.icmart.org and www.acupunctureaustralia.org, from Bryan L. Frank, MD, FAAMA, via e-mail at email@example.com and at www.medicalacupuncture.org/events/icmart_2004.html.
The XII ICMART Congress will be held in Prague in 2005, followed by the XIII Congress, hosted by AAMA, in the US in 2006.
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Medical mission opportunities available
Interested in participating in medical acupuncture in Nepal and Ecuador?
Bryan L. Frank, MD, FAAMA, led medical missions to Silamgal, Nepal in April and Riobamba, Ecuador in June. In Nepal, he treated more than 200 patients in a small village clinic and taught at the Leprosy Mission Hospital. In Ecuador, 1,600-plus patients were treated and 27 surgeries performed. Conventional medicine and medical acupuncture were integrated into patient care in each mission.
Numerous AAMA members have joined in these projects to Nepal, Ecuador, Mexico, Russia and more. Teams go to Nepal again Oct. 12-26 and to Mexico Nov. 18-21. Want to join a short mission overseas? Contact Dr. Frank at BFrankMD@aol.com, www.MedicalMissionPartners.org or at 405/623-7667.
Providing Help - Bryan L Frank, MD, FAAMA, treates patient with medical acupuncture in a village clinic in Nepal.
Quichua girl in Ecuador gets medical acupuncture
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Alison Lee, MD, FAAMA, recently attended a legislative workgoup meeting for the Health Care Policy Committee, at which they discussed the house bill for licensure of nonphysician acupuncturists. Speaking on behalf of physician interests, she questioned the overall need for such a bill in Michigan. She also pointed out several problems with current wording that would have impinged on physician rights and made preliminary recommendations for change, should the bill go forward. Following this meeting, the Health Care Policy Committee opted to not go forward with the bill. Without this step, the bill will not go before the legislature.
Tony V. Lu, MD, FAAMA, announces that a one-day Symposium on Medical Qigong, with Master Wan Su Jian and his staff from Beijing, China, will be held on Nov. 14 at Holiday Inn O'Hare in Rosemont, IL. Sponsored by Golden Eagle Convention and Exposition, the Symposium includes Medical Qigong lecture, treatment and demonstration. Afternoon workshops include Qigong calligraphy, Qigong and Kung Fu practice, Qigong treatment and prevention, Daoist Fen Shui lecture and Daoist ceremony for good luck. For more details, contact Golden Eagle (866/583-5597).
Also, a two-day intensive workshop on Medical Qigong will be offered Nov. 15-16 in Chicago, IL. With bedside Medical Qigong treatment demonstration and practice, the workshop will be presented by Master Wan Su Jian and his staff from Beijing, China. It also includes a lecture and demonstration on Tui Na and Chinese osteopathic manipulation. For more details, contact Dr. Lu (708/485-1061, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Dr. Lu is going to Mongolia to visit the Kampcha Lama of Mongolia in August. He also will be leading a group of 14 people, including four AAMA members, to China and Inner Mongolia for Qigong study and treatment in September. They will be visiting an orphanage in Inner Mongolia to provide medical care.
Drs. Debra Weiner and Ronald M. Glick of Pittsburgh, PA are involved in the first-of-its kind study funded by a four-year $1.4 million grant from the NCCAM and the National Institute on Aging. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Pain Evaluation and Treatment Institute is observing 200 men and women 65 and older with chronic low-back pain in a research study involving medical acupuncture, general conditioning and aerobic exercise (GCAE). The efficacy of the alternative non-drug treatment modality of percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS) on older adults with chronic low-back pain will be explored, as well as combining PENS with a GCAE program. Dr. Weiner is the principal investigator of the study. She expects the well-controlled, comprehensive examination of alternative medicine intervention to show that PENS reduces pain, which promotes exercise adherence.
Members participating in AAMA's referral program will be happy to hear that 313 calls came into national headquarters (and 4,086 website hits to the referral page) in April, 368 calls (and 3,330 website hits) in May, and 374 calls (and 3,980 website hits) in June from patients seeking medical acupuncturists.
Gerald W. Grass, MD, FAAMA, recently presented a poster and abstract entitled, Percutaneous Neuromodulation Therapy (PENS): A Minimally Invasive Technique for the Treatment of Acute and Chronic Pain, to more than 2,000 attendees at the second international joint meeting of the American Pain Society and Canadian Pain Society meeting held in Vancouver, BC, Canada. The presentation was extremely well received and generated a great deal of interest in the technique.
Practice members (associate, full and Fellows) who are not participating in the patient referral program but would like to, need to notify AAMA by mail (4929 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 428, Los Angeles, CA 90010) or by e-mail (email@example.com). To see if you're signed up for this program, check the referral search (Find an Acupuncturist) at: www.medicalacupuncture.org/findadoc/index.html.
Details have just been announced about AAMA's 17th Annual Symposium, April 1-3, 2005, at Hilton Atlanta in Georgia. A Review Course will be taught March 29-30, 2005, followed by Pre-Symposium workshops on March 31. Following the Symposium, the Board Certification Exam will be given to qualified candidates on April 4, 2004. Rooms are being offered at $159 night (single/double) through Feb. 25, 2005 (or until the block sells out). Call 404/659-2000, and be sure to mention AAMA to get the specially discounted rate.
World Federation of Acupuncture-Moxibustion Societies (WFAS) and Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) announce the 6th World Conference on Acupuncture, "Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in the Modern Age," Oct. 29-31 in Gold Coast, Australia. WAFS World Conferences are held every four years in conjunction with WFAS General Assemblies to promote academic exchange, to develop the science and practice of acupuncture-moxibustion, and to strengthen the understanding and cooperation between acupuncture-moxibustion societies internationally. For more details, visit www.acupuncture.org.au/wfas_2004.cfm, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call +61 7 3846 5866.
Members can now receive the AAMA Newsletter via e-mail. Not only will they get the issues quicker, but this also will save AAMA money by reduced printing and postage costs. To receive newsletters electronically, contact Membership Coordinator Natalie Ortiz (email@example.com, 323/937-5514, x20). Incidentally, past issues are posted online at www.medicalacupuncture.org/aama_marf/newsletter/newslist.htm.
Jay Sandweiss, DO, FAAMA, will present the talk, Integrating Acupuncture with Manual Medicine, at the American Back Society's Annual Meeting Dec. 9 in Las Vegas. He also will teach repeating workshops, Strain-Counterstrain and Functional Release, Dec. 10 and 11. Addititonally, Dr. Sandweiss will lead the two-day course, Manual Approach to the Treatment of Low Back Pain and Dysfunction, in eight cities during the next year. For details, visit his website (www.doctorjaysandweiss.com).
Structural Acupuncture for Physicians will be offered on Thursday evenings from Oct. 7 to June 12, 2005 by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Department of Anesthesia, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehab, at Harvard Medical School in Boston, which will grant up to 300 Category I CME hours for this course. Guest speakers, clinical instruction and home study are involved with the course, which also can be viewed via the Internet. Instructors are Joseph F. Audette, MA, MD; Kiiko Matsumoto, LAc and David Euler, LAc. For more information, visit http://cme.med.harvard.edu (and search by dates or topic), e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (617) 384-8600.
Hiroshi Nakazawa, MD, FAAMA, attended the fifth Instructors Educational Meeting by Japan Toyo Hari Medical Association in July in Tokyo. He also will conduct the fifth annual Medical Acupuncture seminar for Japanese physicians at Mamiya Clinic in Hamamatsu, Japan Oct. 9-11. The main focus will be on the clinical approach and management of patients in an impromptu fashion. Several Japanese physicians are International Members of AAMA. Additionally, Dr. Nakazawa has been invited by the Japan Oriental Medical Association to deliver a speech at the Kyoto Conference on Oct. 17. The topic will be, Current Medical Acupuncture Practice by Physicians in USA, with a workshop to follow.
If you have acupuncture privileges at a hospital and have not notified AAMA, fax your name, hospital, city and state to 323/937-0959 to be added to our list. You can see if you're already listed at: www.medicalacupuncture.org/acu_info/hospriv.html. If you need a hospital privileges credentialing package, call 323/937-5514 (or download it from our website). On the AAMA website home page, click on Hospital Privileges Guide.
Nader E. Soliman, MD, FAAMA, who is president of AAMA, has been invited by Maryland State Medical Society to present the lecture, "Acupuncture in Pain Management and the Role of Acupuncture in Treating Drug Addiction," during the Maryland Medical Convention in Cambridge, MD Oct. 15-16.
Ongoing courses on traditional Chinese herbal medicine are being offered by Chinese herbalist Anastacia White. For further information and the current schedule, visit East Earth Medicine Wisdom's website (www.eemedicinewisdom.com).
Please send news items and photos to email@example.com.
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Study reports that acupuncture, mixed with standard care, provides clinical benefits to ease migraines
A significant study, Acupuncture for Chronic Headache in Primary Care: Large, Pragmatic, Randomised Trial, published in the British Medical Journal concluded that a policy of using a local acupuncture service, in addition to standard care, results in persisting, clinically relevant benefits for primary care patients with chronic headache, particularly migraine.
The study (BMJ, 3/16/04; 328: 744-0) also found that acupuncture resulted in improvements in quality of life, decreases in use of medication and visits to general practitioners, and reductions in sick days for the 401 participants. Methodological strengths of the 12-month study include a large sample size, concealed randomisation and careful follow up. They maximized the practical value of the trial by comparing the effects of clinically relevant alternatives on a diverse group of patients recruited directly from primary care.
Patients randomized to acupuncture received, in addition to standard care from general practitioners, up to 12 treatments over three months from an advanced member of the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists. All acupuncturists in the study had completed a minimum of 250 hours of postgraduate training in acupuncture, which included the theory and practice of traditional Chinese medicine; they had practiced acupuncture for a median of 12 years and treated a median of 22 patients per week. The acupuncture point prescriptions used were individualized to each patient and were at the discretion of the acupuncturist.
A strength of this trial in general practices in London, England and surrounding counties is that its results are congruent with much of the prior literature on acupuncture for headache. Effects found in this study that have been previously reported include: differences between acupuncture and control for migraine that increased between follow up after treatment and one year; unconvincing effects for tension-type headache; improvements in severity as well as frequency and increased benefit in patients with more severe headaches.
The study noted that acupuncture is widely used to treat chronic pain, and several small trials have indicated that acupuncture may be of benefit for chronic headache disorders in the past. However, the methodological quality of these studies have been questioned. What this study contributes is that acupuncture led to persisting, clinically relevant reduction in headache scores. Patients receiving acupuncture in this trial used less medication, made fewer visits to general practitioners and took fewer days away from work or other usual activities.
Therefore, a policy of using a local acupuncture service, in addition to standard care, results in persisting, clinically relevant benefits for primary care patients with chronic headache, particularly migraine, compared with controls. The British study recommends that an expansion of National Health Service acupuncture services for headache should be considered.
For complete details on this study, visit BMJ's website (www.bmj.com) and type Vickers in the Author search engine (or type, Acupuncture for Chronic Headache, in the Keyword search engine) in the upper-right corner.
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Chapter President Martha M. Grout, MD, MD(H), FAAMA, recently received a grant from the Autism Research Institute to study "The Relationship of Urinary Neurotransmitter Levels and Amino Acids to Gastrointestinal Function in Autistic Children." She will do metabolic measurements before and after a three-month course of therapy aimed at healing intestinal permeability. She is in the process of seeking IRB approval and plans to start the study within the next month. There is no direct link to acupuncture for this particular study. However, she uses auricular acupuncture on all the children whom they treat in the CrossRoads Clinic, and this therapy will be offered to participants in the study, once it's completed.
Abraham Kuruvilla, MD, was a speaker on Acupuncture in Primary Care at the Seminar by the Arizona Academy of Family Physicians in Prescott, AZ. This one-hour talk in July was well received. Most of his presentation was on cases and evidence-based data.
President Anna C. Kelly, MD, announces that the Georgia Association of Medical Acupuncturists (GAMA) is planning a seminar for March 26-27, 2005. Jeffrey Yuen, LAc, will be speaking, with the topic to be announced. Save the date, and watch this column for more details.
Toshikatsu Yamamato, MD, and Richard A. Feely, DO, FAAMA, presented Yamamoto New Scalp Acupuncture and Advanced Program for this Chapter's recent educational seminar, which attracted 35 MDs and DOs from as far away as Alaska and Puerto Rico. As the event was sponsored by AAMA, participants received 12.5 CME hours of AMA Category 1 credit for completion of the two days. In their evaluation forms, the physicians have overwhelmingly requested that Dr. Yamamoto return to Chicago in the near future.
AAMA Illinois Chapter hosts Toshikatsu Yamamoto, MD, (seated) for Yamamoto New Scalp Acupuncture educational seminar.
Chapter membership stands at 28 members. Officers for the currrent cycle are President Joseph Sciammarella, MD, FAAMA; Vice President Bruce R. Gilbert, MD, PhD, DABMA, and Board Directors Kathryn Calabria, DO, DABMA and Joseph Ippolito, MD, DABMA.
Medical Corps Commission - Joseph Sciammarella, MD, FAAMA (right), president of the AAMA New York Chapter, accepts a commission and is sworn in as a Major in the Medical Corps of the United States Army Reserve in July.
Dr. Gilbert also serves as a member of AAMA's Board of Directors, and Dr. Sciammarella serves on the Academy's Journal Committee. The Chapter's goal for this year is to become more locally active, and hopefully to sponsor a CME seminar by spring 2005.
The Academy is pleased to announce the formation of the Ohio Chapter. Officers include President Sandi Amoils, MD; Vice President Steve Amoils, MD; President Elect Liz Woolford, MD, and Secretary/Treasurer Claudia Harsh, MD. In addition to those physicians, other charter members include Drs. James Leonard and John Sacco, who make up the Continuing Education Committee. Members interested in joining this Chapter should contact Dr. Sandi Amoils (firstname.lastname@example.org, 513/791-5521).
Does your state have a regional AAMA chapter? If not, please consider forming one. Chapters provide fellowship, professional camaraderie, education and curbside consults. Contact Regional Chapter Subcommittee Chair Martha M. Grout, MD, FAAMA (602/787-8500, email@example.com).
Chapter presidents, please e-mail your updates for the AAMA Newsletter to Editor Barton Ortberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Survey shows that alternative medicine is growing in popularity
A new nationwide government survey shows that 36% of US adults ages 18-plus use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM is defined as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices and products not considered part of conventional medicine, such as medical acupuncture.
When prayer specifically for health reasons is included in the definition of CAM, the number of US adults using some form of CAM in the past year rises to 62%.
"These new findings confirm the extent to which Americans have turned to CAM approaches with the hope that they would help treat and prevent disease and enhance quality of life," said Stephen E. Straus, MD, director of National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
The survey, administered to more than 31,000 representative US adults, was conducted as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Developed by NCCAM and the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the survey included questions on 27 types of CAM therapies commonly used in the US. These included 10 types of provider-based therapies, such as acupuncture and chiropractic, and 17 other therapies that do not require a provider, such as natural products (herbs or botanical products), special diets and megavitamin therapy.
Although there have been many surveys of CAM use to date, the various surveys included fewer choices of CAM therapies. In addition, they often surveyed smaller population samples primarily relying on telephone or mail surveys versus in-person interviews used for this survey. Thus, the results from the CAM portion of the NHIS provide the most comprehensive and reliable data to date describing CAM use by the U.S. adult population.
Overall, the survey revealed that CAM use was greater among a variety of population groups, including women; people with higher education; those who had been hospitalized within the past year; and former smokers, compared to current smokers or those who had never smoked. In addition, this was the first survey to yield substantial information on CAM use by minorities.
"Over the years, we've concentrated on traditional medical treatment, but this new collection of CAM data taps into another dimension entirely. What we see is that a sizable percentage of the public puts their personal health into their own hands," said NCHS Director Edward J. Sondik, PhD.
CAM approaches were most often used to treat back pain or problems, colds, neck pain or problems, joint pain or stiffness, and anxiety or depression. However, only about 12% of adults sought care from a licensed CAM practitioner, suggesting that most people who use CAM do so without consulting a practitioner.
Interestingly, the survey also found that about 28% of adults used CAM because they believed conventional medical treatments would not help them with their health problem; this is in contrast to previous findings that CAM users are not, in general, dissatisfied with conventional medicine.
Results of the survey reveal new patterns of CAM use among various population groups and provide a rich source of data for future research. Furthermore, the survey results provide a baseline for future surveys, as it establishes a consistent definition of CAM that can be used to track trends and prevalence of CAM use.
For more details, visit AAMA's website (www.medicalacupuncture.org/events/cam_survey.html).