Acupuncture/ pressureChiropracticMassagePain

Should we judge CAM by how the patient feels or by the change in the lab value?

Here’s a study of the effectiveness of usual mainstream medical care for acute low back pain with and without the option for patients to add acupuncture, chiropractic, or massage to their treatment.

It comes from the Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies at the Osher Institute in Boston.

After 5 weeks, providing patients with a choice resulted in a small but statistically significant improvement in symptoms. In addition, there was a small and statistically insignificant improvement in their ability to function.

The reserchers concluded that neither improvement was of any practical significance. And it cost $244 dollars more per patient.

The patients disagree. There was a significantly greater satisfaction with care in the group allowed to use the CAM options

The bottom line?

So, let me get this straight. Patients given the option to add CAM to usual therapy claim they felt better compared to patients not given that opportunity. But the researchers discount the patients’ conclusions and proclaim the CAM was of no value.

I remember being taught to treat the patient not the lab value. I guess they don’t teach that at Harvard any more.

2/7/07 20:06 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.