We were recently quoted in a story in STAT News that misrepresented the field of integrative medicine. The University of Michigan Integrative Family Medicine program co-directors, Jill R. Schneiderhan, M.D., instructor, and Suzanna M. Zick, N.D, M.P.H., associate professor, are not in agreement with the author.
The article is not representative of the U-M Integrative Family Medicine program or those we have worked with at other academic medical centers. The U-M Integrative Family Medicine program provides high-quality, evidence-based, integrative primary care and consultations in integrative medicine to a wide range of patients of all walks of life. The picture painted in this article of spa-like services and treatments, with no evidence to support them, is not an accurate portrayal of the U-M program and undermines the overall field of integrative medicine. The goal of U-M Integrative Family Medicine is to see each patient we encounter as an individual and take into account all the factors that might be impacting their health and wellbeing.
While most of the article is spent discussing those therapies for which there are the least amount of evidence, it is worth pointing out that the evidence is growing for a number of treatments, especially in the area of the treatment of chronic pain. Chronic pain is a descriptor for a group of conditions traditionally less responsive to pharmaceutical therapies and at the heart of a growing epidemic of opioid addiction caused by their overuse. Please see the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health page referenced in the original article for summaries of the areas where integrative therapies have the best evidence, including this one specifically on the growing evidence for the treatment of chronic pain: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/chronic-pain. The site also features links to the research articles supporting it.
The author indicated that many hospitals are in the business of making money and are using integrative medicine for this purpose. They included a reference to “A national consortium to promote integrative health now counts more than 70 academic centers and health systems as members.” In fact the Academic Consortium of Integrative Medicine and Health is a group comprised of many of the top-tier research and academic institutions in the country with the goals of working to “Support and mentor academic leaders, faculty, and students to advance integrative healthcare education, research, and clinical care; and Disseminate information on rigorous scientific research, educational curricula in integrative health and sustainable models of clinical care.” The U-M Integrative Family Medicine program is a proud member of this group. Program faculty are working with other programs around the nation to promote evidence-based research in the area of integrative treatments and striving to build a strong network of academic medical programs that are supportive of a model of integrative health that promotes well-rounded, holistic medical care for all patients in a way that is informed by the latest available evidence.
Evidence-based medicine is a hallmark of patient care at Michigan Medicine, the U-M Department of Family Medicine and within the U-M Integrative Family Medicine program.