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Speaker: Dr. David Eisenberg, June 2003 Health Care Leadership Forum

During his hour-long presentation, Dr. Eisenberg provided participants with a vast array of information, including the definitions of CAM and categories of therapies. He talked about the prevalence, cost and patterns of use of CAM therapies in the United States. For instance, the total visits to CAM providers (629 million) exceeded total visits to all primary care physicians (386 million) in 1997 and the total out-of-pocket expenditures relating to CAM therapies were conservatively estimated at $27 billion. This is comparable to the projected out-of-pocket expenditures for all U.S. physician services.

Dr. Eisenberg highlighted some of the educational programs offered at medical schools and indicated the American Association of Medical Colleges has established a Special Interest Group devoted to CAM. He also said that the NIH supports more than 200 studies involving CAM. Prior to 1990, relatively little was known about the relative safety, efficacy, cost-effectiveness and mechanism of action of individual CAM therapies. Increasingly, however, the peer-reviewed medical literature has included consensus conferences, randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses involving CAM therapies. However, more needs to be understood about CAM by both health care professionals and patients. Private and public purchasers, health care organizations, clinicians, and patients should work together to redesign health care processes in accordance with the following rules:

Care based on continuous healing relationships.
Customization based on patient needs and values.
The patient as the source of control.
Shared knowledge and the free flow of information.
Evidence-based decision making.

If you would like more information about Dr. Eisenbergs presentation, including references and additional scientific citations, please contact the HCLF at

Dr. David Eisenberg talks
with audience members at the
Health Care Leadership Forum.


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