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J Altern Complement Med. 1997 Spring;3(1):31-7.

Characteristics and complaints of patients seeking therapy at a hospital-based alternative medicine clinic.

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  • 1Center for Alternative Medicine, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.



Patient use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is on the rise. With millions of Americans using CAM, it has become imperative from the public health point of view to undertake a coordinated research effort that will thoroughly evaluate the role and effectiveness of CAM modalities.


We developed a prospective data-collection system to capture presenting complaints, patient health histories, and demographic information on the patients of a hospital-based alternative medicine clinic.


Of 760 patients in the present cohort, 248 different complaints or complaint combinations were entered. Of 16 major categories, the largest was musculoskeletal, followed by the addictions, psychiatric, and nonspecific categories. Slightly more than one in five patients requested treatment on the recommendation of their physician. Over two-thirds of patients in this study group were female.


Given the growing interest and use of complementary and alternative therapies, a system such as described can demonstrate the types of patients presenting for treatment, a more detailed picture of their complaints, and, over time, measurable outcomes.

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