Intended for healthcare professionals


Closing the evidence gap in integrative medicine

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 01 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3335
  1. Hugh MacPherson, senior research fellow1,
  2. David Peters, professor of integrated healthcare2,
  3. Catherine Zollman, general practitioner3
  1. 1Department of Health Sciences, Seebohm Rowntree Building, University of York, York YO10 5DD
  2. 2School of Integrated Health, University of Westminster, London W1W 6UW
  3. 3Nightingale Valley Practice, Brooklea Health Centre, Brislington, Bristol BS4 4HU

    A variety of methods of evaluating complex interventions should be considered

    Integrative medicine was recently defined as “medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines (conventional and complementary) to achieve optimal health and healing” ( Such complex approaches are especially relevant in the management and prevention of chronic health problems, which are the main cause of disability and account for 78% of health expenditure.1 A session at the recent US Institute of Medicine summit on integrative medicine in Washington, DC was devoted to the science behind the integrative medicine approach to health care,2 and the subject has been debated at a recent Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health conference at the King’s Fund, London (

    Since the 1990s, attempts have been made to make integrative approaches more available in mainstream care. The experience of patients and clinicians might support their wider use, yet frustration is growing …

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