S19: Health Care Disparities in Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Paula Gardiner1, Robert Saper1, Maria Chao2, Keturah (Kim) Faurot3

1Program for Integrative Medicine and Health Care Disparities, Boston University School of Medicine, USA; 2Osher Center UCSF, USA; 3University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA


NCCAM's statement that "although studies increasingly provide information on patterns of and results from CAM use in the general population, a shortage of information on CAM use and outcomes of such use in racial and ethnic minority populations continues. Studies are especially needed to understand the results of CAM use by different racial and ethnic minority populations and sub-populations.” The National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services have made the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities in health care a major priority. As the national CAM research agenda moves forward, and safe and effective CAM therapies are identified, it is imperative that these modalities are also studied in underserved patients.  Among different socioeconomic statuses there exist wide health care disparities. The effects of poverty, poor education, inadequate housing, and language barriers, to name a few, exacerbate stress, increase chronic illness, and delay care. The biomedical disease-oriented approach employing medications and surgery alone is often insufficient to address these patients” full needs.   There is a growing area of research within CAM community focusing on the safety and efficacy of CAM modalities in underserved patients showing positive outcomes.  However, in many countries, evidence based CAM is not covered by medical insurance or is paid for out of pocket. Therefore, in this topic, there is the added dimension of cost and barriers to access of CAM. This symposium seeks to bring together researchers interested in underserved patient populations to discuss the unique challenges of this field. We will discuss the barriers and solutions they have faced as they have completed research in this area.