Blog | Friday, June 6, 2008

Talk to your patients about alternative medicine

The NIH has launched an educational campaign to encourage providers and patients to talk with one another about the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The campaign, called Time to Talk, offers the following tips for providers:

-- Include a question about CAM use on medical history forms.
-- Ask patients to bring a list of all therapies they use, including prescriptions, over-the-counter, herbal therapies, and other CAM practices.
-- Have medical staff initiate the conversation about CAM.

Nearly 2/3 of people age 50+ use some form of CAM, yet fewer than 1/3 of them discuss it with their providers, an NIH survey found. The most common reasons were that the doctor didn't ask, that patients didn't know they should discuss CAM, or that there wasn't enough time during the office visit.

Tools and resources about CAM, including wallet cards, posters and tip sheets, are on the NIH Web site.

An article with advice on talking to your patients about CAM ran in the November ACP Observer.