The Program for Integrative Medicine and Health Care Disparities conducts research in several areas relevant to underserved or ethnic minority populations.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies such as supplements, meditation, yoga, massage, and acupuncture are increasingly popular in the U.S. Studies estimate over one-third of U.S. adults use CAM therapies while approximately one of ten children use them. Well-designed research studies need to be carried out to determine which of these complementary therapies are safe and effective and should be therefore integrated into mainstream clinical care. Conversely, if research identifies practices that may be ineffective or unsafe, their use should be strongly discouraged and not combined with conventional medicine.
National surveys also show, however, disparities in CAM use based upon race, income, and education. For example, CAM use is much less common in non-whites, Hispanics, the poor, and people with less education. Although CAM research has increased dramatically in the previous two decades, relatively little has been done with minority or low income individuals.
Our research at the Program for Integrative Medicine and Health Disparities focuses on why these disparities in CAM use exist, their implications, and strategies to address them. As federal, private, and academic stakeholders invest millions of dollars into CAM research, it is imperative that we study the feasibility and effectiveness of CAM and integrative medicine in multicultural communities and vulnerable populations.