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AHA Reports Increasing Number of Hospitals Offer Alternative Therapies

doi: 10.1097/01.NNE.0000343406.97985.d7
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The American Hospital Association (AHA) says that 37% of hospitals around the USA are offering complementary and alternative treatments including acupuncture, touch therapy, and music and art therapy. A similar survey carried out by the AHA in 2007 found only 1 in 4 hospitals provided these services.

Hospitals report that patient satisfaction is the number one way to determine if alternative treatments are beneficial, closely followed by clinical data. The Cleveland Clinic recently completed an alternative therapy pilot program for patients undergoing heart surgery. Half of the patients in this study opted for spiritual care, counseling, art music, touch, therapy or guided imagery with 93% of these participants reporting that the alternative services were helpful. Aron, 56 of Grinell, Iowa is reported as saying "Having the human touch and knowing that someone is paying very personal attention to you helps. It keeps everything from being so medical". Betty Carlson, 79, of Fenton, Michigan opted for Reiki therapy after open heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. She proposed that the complementary treatment was "Ivery relaxing and a gift toward my healing." Sita Ananth, director of knowledge services for the Samueli Institute (an Alexandria, Virginia-based non-profit organization studying alternative therapies) notes, "Many hospital mission statements are to serve the mind, body and spiritual needs of their patients".

Additionally, alternative therapies have a lucrative marketing potential. $19 billion per year is spent on alternative treatment, according to The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The AHA's survey reports that 71% of patients choosing alternative therapies pay for the services using out-of-pocket in cash. AHA also comments that 44% of hospitals offering these therapies report that the programs have a mediocre or poor relationship with staff physicians.

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Source: American Nurses Association SmartBrief. Available at: Accessed September 18, 2008.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.