The results were astounding. Among survey respondents who used complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, in the last year and seen a conventional medical doctor, about two-thirds did not disclose at least one type of CAM therapy to the doctor. Their reasons: It wasn't important for the doctor to know; the doctor never asked; it was none of the doctor's business; and the doctor wouldn't understand.
"Certainly, the perception among patients is (CAM) is being knocked" by conventional physicians, said Barry Oken, M.D., professor of neurology and behavioral neuroscience in the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, and director of OHSU's Oregon Center For Complementary & Alternative Medicine in Neurological Disorders.
"Open dialogue is needed. There needs to be better communication," he said.
Oken hopes a new book he developed and edited spurs this communication by giving conventionally trained health care providers the facts about CAM therapies and their effectiveness in treating people with neurological diseases.
Titled "Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Neurology: An Evidence-Based Approach to Clinical Practice," the book recommends CAM therapies as part of a "holistic" approach to treating neurological disorders. It is targeted to any health care provider who sees people with neurological disorders and is "accessible to even the most scientifically stringent, conventionally trained physicians, including neurologists," according to the preface. It is published by The Parthenon Publishing Group.
The goal of the book is "to increase acceptance of (CAM) techniques among conventionally trained physicians," Oken said.