S07: Creating a Working Definition of "Disciplines Research"

John Weeks1, Martha Brown Menard2, Greg Cramer3, Carlo Calabrese4, Belinda Anderson 5, David Rakel6

1Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care, USA;2Georgetown University, USA;3National University of Health Sciences, USA;4Naturopathic Physicians Research Institute, USA;5Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, USA;6University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine, USA


The development of the NIH NCCAM 2011-2015 strategic plan included a significant language change between the August 2010 draft and the February 2011 final document. The use of the term “disciplines” in reference to clinical practice professions was virtually absent in the draft but included 35 times in the final version. NCCAM’s adoption of this term reflects language in NCCAM’s 1998 Congressional mandate where a variant of the phrase “modalities, systems and disciplines”is used repeatedly to define NCCAM’s focus. Yet what is disciplines research? What stakeholders may be most interested? What methods are most appropriate for examining the impact of disciplines on the health of individuals and populations? Answering these questions is important because patients, employers, insurers and health systems typically access integrative heath care through employing members of distinct disciplines and engaging the whole practice approaches these offer. The timeliness is underscored by growing interest in the roles these disciplines may have in “real-world” patient-centered outcomes, including enhancing wellness and fostering healthy behaviors. Finally, NCCAM”s frequent employment of an as-yet ill-defined concept suggests the need for early clarity if related components of the plan are to be realized.

Objective: Participants in this workshop will create a working definition of the term "disciplines research" together with appropriate research methods resulting from the definition to investigate licensed and emerging complementary, alternative, and integrative medical/healthcare disciplines.    Methods: Facilitated small group discussion (focus groups). The workshop team of 6 includes a moderator and a multidisciplinary group of researchers from the following disciplines: chiropractic, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, massage therapy and board certified IM. In the initial 20 minutes these facilitators will frame the task and stimulate dialogue with brief opening comments. The next 45 minutes will be spent in focus groups, using a semi-structured guide, with the final 25 minutes used to report to the whole group for discussion and refinement. Each focus group discussion will be taped and transcribed, and the full reporting/large group discussion will be taped. Field notes will also be taken. Workshop participants will also be invited to contribute to manuscript preparation and review. Results: The workshop team and interested participants will use the transcribed discussions and notes to prepare a paper that includes the working definition of “disciplines research,” and suggestions for appropriate research approaches. The paper will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication within twelve months of the workshop.