Integrative Care
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Evidence, pioneers explain CAM increase in Norway, Denmark

17 September, 2012 by David Finer

During the last decade CAM methods have become increasingly common features in the health care systems of Norway and Denmark. This may be explained by evidence and by the influence of motivated individual.

Researchers report a survey study of the use of CAM methods at 99 Norwegian and 126 Danish hospitals in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

In the year 2000, governments in both Norway and Denmark started to fund research and the establishment of information centers, in Norway the organization NAFKAM.

Increased acceptance
Since the year 2001, when the phenomenon was measured last, there has been a rapid increase in the introduction of CAM methods in Norway´s health care system. Then, they were in use at every fourth Norwegian hospital, today the frequency has doubled.

The previously sometimes hostile attitude among hospital administrators has been replaced by an acknowledgment that certain treatment methods do, in fact, work, according to the authors.

From hypnosis to homeopathy

The survey shows that around half of Norway´s hospitals (50 of 99) and a third of Denmark´s hospitals (39 of 126) provide CAM treatments. Acupuncture was available at 40 of 50 Norwegian hospitals.

Moreover, at 19 hospitals an array of other CAM methods were given: biofeedback, hypnosis, herbals, art therapy, homeopathy, gestalt therapy, aroma therapy, tai chi, yoga and pilates. Nine hospitals offered more than one method.

In Denmark, patients could obtain acupuncture in 38 of the 39 hospitals offering CAM services. Light therapy was also available at one hospital.

Evidence and pioneers
Researchers also asked survey respondents why the hospitals provided CAM therapies. In Denmark, the most common explanation was demonstrated evidence for the methods in question, in Norway the reason given was rather influence of one or more particularly motivated pioneers (with the exception of acupuncture, where again evidence was the driving force).

In all cases but one, all CAM therapies were given by registered health care staff, but the amount of training they had received varied considerably.

The authors conclude that government support to CAM research together with institutionalization (more so in Norway than in Denmark) may greatly speed up the uptake of CAM methods in public health care systems.

Laila J Salomonsen, Lasse Skovgaard, Søren la Cour, Lisbeth Nyborg, Laila Launsø, Vinjar Fønnebø. Salomonsen et al. Use of complementary and alternative medicine at Norwegian and Danish hospitals. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011, 11:4

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