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National Institutes of Health • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

NCCAM Clinical Digest

Talking With Your Patients About Complementary Health Practices

March 2012
Doctor speaking to elderly man.

Did you know that approximately 38 percent of adults (about 4 in 10) and approximately 12 percent of children (about 1 in 9) are using some type of complementary health practice? However, according to a telephone survey of people aged 50 and older, only a third of all respondents said they have ever discussed these practices with their health care providers.

To ensure safe, coordinated care among all conventional medicine and complementary health practices, it’s time to talk. Talking not only allows fully integrated care, but it also minimizes risks of interactions with a patient’s conventional treatments. When patients tell their providers about their use of complementary health practices, 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.

This issue provides tips for starting the conversation with your patients, reliable resources on complementary health practices, and findings from the survey.

Read more about talking with your patients

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NCCAM Clinical Digest is a service of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, NIH, DHHS. NCCAM Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter, offers evidence-based information on CAM, including scientific literature searches, summaries of NCCAM-funded research, fact sheets for patients, and more.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is dedicated to exploring complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, training CAM researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCAM's Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCAM Web site at nccam.nih.gov. NCCAM is 1 of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States.

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Content is in the public domain and may be reprinted, except if marked as copyrighted (©). Please credit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine as the source. All copyrighted material is the property of its respective owners and may not be reprinted without their permission.

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