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Pediatric Task Force Addresses Use of Alternative Medicine

Physicians urged to offer families educated advice about therapies outside of mainstream medicine

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians who care for children should advise and counsel families and patients about all relevant, safe, effective and age-appropriate health services, including complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), according to a Clinical Report published in the December issue of Pediatrics.

In their report, Kathi J. Kemper, M.D., and colleagues from the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Complementary and Alternative Medicine define CAM terms and describe common CAM therapies. They also review legal, ethical and research issues, and offer communication strategies for physicians to use when discussing CAM with patients and families.

The researchers cite a 2001 AAP Periodic Survey of Fellows, which showed that 73 percent of pediatricians agreed that they should provide information about all potential treatments and that 54 percent agreed that they should consider the use of all potential treatments, including CAM.

"Pediatricians should seek continued and updated knowledge about therapeutic options available to their patients, whether they are mainstream or CAM, and about the specific services used by individual patients to ensure that issues of safety, appropriateness, and advisability of CAM can be addressed," the authors conclude. "Only then can pediatricians appreciate the concerns of their patients and families and offer them the thoughtful and knowledgeable guidance they may require. Finally, if the pediatrician confirms that the patient is seeing a CAM provider, the pediatrician can (with the permission of the patient and family) include the CAM provider in overall care-coordination activities."

Full Text

Physician's Briefing