National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

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Josephine P. Briggs, M.D.
Josephine P. Briggs, M.D.

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Josephine P. Briggs, M.D.

It's Time To Talk

March 13, 2012

We know that nearly 40 percent of Americans use some kind of complementary health practice. But we also know that most patients do not proactively disclose use of complementary health practices to their health care providers. Likewise, most providers don’t initiate the discussion with their patients. As a physician, I strongly believe that patients and their health care providers need to talk openly about all of their health care practices to ensure safe, coordinated care. Talking not only allows fully integrated care, but it also minimizes risks of interactions with a patient’s conventional treatments.

Last week we launched a new consumer-friendly tips series—Time to Talk Tips—as a companion to our Time to Talk educational campaign, which is designed to encourage the discussion between health care providers and their patients about the use of complementary health practices. This monthly series highlights specific health topics, such as the safe use of dietary supplements, natural products for the flu and colds, and mind and body approaches used to manage symptoms of a variety of conditions.

The tips accompany topics found in the NCCAM Clinical Digest, our monthly e-newsletter for health care providers that addresses the state of science on complementary health practices for various health conditions. These same topics will also be discussed in monthly Twitter chats (@NCCAM), allowing the public to interact with the center, ask questions, and receive answers in real time.  Check out this month’s tips, Time To Talk With Your Health Care Providers: 4 Tips To Start the Conversation.

When patients tell their providers, they can better stay in control and more effectively manage their health. When providers ask their patients, they can ensure that they are fully informed and can help patients make wise health care decisions. So, start talking!

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