Intended for healthcare professionals

Reviews Personal views

We must give patients the evidence on complementary therapies

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 03 August 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:308
  1. Edzard Ernst, director (
  1. complementary medicine, Peninsula Medical School

    Consider the following three facts: complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) appeals to more and more patients; patient choice is rapidly becoming an important theme in healthcare; and much of the existing patient information on this kind of medicine is unreliable. Taken together, these facts suggest an urgent need for reliable patient information in this area.

    The days when sceptics could claim correctly that complementary medicine is a data free zone are clearly past

    The aim of such information should be to help people participate in decisions about their care. In order to achieve this, the information must be relevant, accurate, and objective, sufficiently detailed and comprehensive, as well as accessible and understandable. It should address the needs and concerns of patients and focus on outcomes that matter to them. Producing such a guide would require a range of skills—for example, scientists who are aware of, and able to correctly interpret, the …

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