|Eisenberg report that the prevalence of use of at least 1 of 16 specific alternative
therapies during the previous 12 months has increased significantly (from 33.8% in 1990 to
42.1% in 1997), that the estimated number of visits to
alternative medicine practitioners increased dramatically (from 427 million in 1990 to 629
million in 1997), and that only 38.5% of those who used alternative therapies discussed
them with their physician.
Total out-of-pocket expenditures associated with use of alternative medicine in 1997 were estimated at $27 billion. In an analysis of data from malpractice insurers from 1990 through 1996, Studdert and colleagues found that claims against chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists generally occurred less frequently and usually involved less severe injury than claims against medical doctors.
This issue of THE JOURNAL includes 6 randomized
clinical trials that evaluate the use of 6 diverse alternative medicine herapies for
treatment of common clinical conditions. The results are intriguing: