National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®

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The Five Strategic Objectives

NCCAM has organized its plan around five strategic objectives, which serve the three long-range goals.

Objective 1: Advance research on mind and body interventions, practices, and disciplines

National surveys have shown that the use of mind-and-body approaches has been increasing in the United States. Other study results have suggested that at least some mind-and-body practices can be helpful for health problems, including by:

  • Enhancing quality of life
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving some mental-health measures
  • Addressing certain types of chronic pain.

Objective 2: Advance research on natural products used as complementary health practices

“Natural products” refers to substances like herbal medicines, botanicals, and probiotics. These products are widely marketed and readily available, often as dietary supplements. Although research has explored many of them, in most instances the scientific evidence is insufficient, including on their interactions with:

  • Other herbs or supplements
  • Prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

NCCAM sponsors research to address gaps in knowledge about natural products.

Objective 3: Increase understanding of “real-world” patterns and outcomes of the use of complementary health practices and their integration into health care and health promotion

NCCAM supports studies on complementary health practices as they are practiced in real-world settings, including on:

  • Patterns of their use in the U.S. and in specific populations
  • How people make decisions about use of these approaches
  • Their safety
  • Their potential to contribute to healthier lifestyles and behaviors.

Objective 4: Improve the capacity of the field to carry out rigorous research

In this area, types of opportunities NCCAM supports include:

  • Training and career development
  • Teamwork across disciplines in research
  • Partnerships across organizations (e.g., the NIH, other Federal agencies, and other organizations), fields, and countries, including for best use of available resources.

Objective 5: Develop and disseminate objective, evidence-based information on complementary health practices

NCCAM uses a variety of communications approaches to explain, in an objective and reliable manner based on evidence, what is known scientifically about complementary health approaches. This helps patients and their health care providers, among others, to make decisions. NCCAM also works to encourage dialogue and partnership between patients and their providers about use of these approaches, to support safe, coordinated care.