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Integr Med Insights. 2014 May 19;9:7-15. doi: 10.4137/IMI.S14124. eCollection 2014.

Naturopathic practice at north american academic institutions: description of 300,483 visits and comparison to conventional primary care.

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National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland, OR, USA.
Pacific Pearl La Jolla, La Jolla, CA, USA.
Naturopathic Physicians Research Institute, Portland, OR, USA.


This study collected patient visit data to explore similarities and differences between conventional and naturopathic primary care (PC). Administrative data from practice management software systems from the main teaching clinics of four of the eight accredited North American naturopathic academic institutions were abstracted into an integrated database containing five years (2006-2010) of visit, patient, laboratory, and prescribing data. Descriptive analyses of healthcare services were compared to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS). Over the five-year period, 300,483 patient visits to naturopathic doctors occurred at clinics, excluding visits at clinics operated by the schools in community settings. Patients were 69% female; mean age was 39 (SE 0.09). Older adults (>65) comprised 9% of the population and children (<16) comprised 8%. Comparing academic naturopathic clinics to national conventional PC (NAMCS), we found more patients paid out of pocket at naturopathic clinics (50 vs. 4%) and naturopathic clinics more frequently offered discounted care (26 vs. 0.3%). There was a 44% overlap in the most frequent 25 diagnoses for PC at conventional community clinics. Overall, these data suggest substantial similarities in care offered by academic naturopathic clinics, at which most Naturopathic Doctor (ND) students are trained, and by conventional PC practices.


NAMCS; health services research; naturopathic medicine; naturopathy

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