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Clinicians Often Unaware of Alternative Medicine Trials

Greater efforts are needed to disseminate trial results and train clinicians to interpret results

TUESDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Among practicing clinicians, awareness of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) randomized controlled trials and confidence in ability to interpret the results is generally low, according to study findings published in the April 13 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Jon C. Tilburt, M.D., of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues mailed surveys to 2,400 practicing acupuncturists, naturopaths, internists and rheumatologists, of whom 1,561 (65 percent) responded. The surveys addressed awareness of two landmark trials: one showing that acupuncture was superior to sham acupuncture in knee osteoarthritis, and one showing that glucosamine-chondroitin was superior to placebo in moderate-to-severe knee osteoarthritis.

Overall, the researchers found that 59 percent of respondents were aware of at least one of the trials but that only 23 percent were aware of both trials. They also found that only 17 to 33 percent of respondents reported feeling "very confident" in interpreting research results, and that acupuncturists and naturopaths were significantly less likely than internists and rheumatologists to rate the research results as "very useful."

"For clinical research in CAM (and conventional medicine) to achieve its potential social value, concerted efforts must be undertaken that more deliberately train clinicians in critical appraisal, biostatistics and use of evidence-based resources, as well as expanded research opportunities, dedicated training experiences, and improved dissemination of research results," the authors conclude.

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