Clinical guidelines in the UK: Do they mention Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) – Are CAM professional bodies aware?

Ava Lorenc, Janine Leach, Nicola Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (SciVal)


2013AbstractIntroduction: Clinical guidelines are designed to help practitioners and patients make decisions about appropriate health care. Including com-plementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in conventional guidelines can raise awareness, inform consumers and could potentially encourageintegrated care provision. This study reviews Department of Health guidance on CAM in UK clinical guidelines and assesses CAM professionalbodies’ awareness.Methods: Phase 1 searched the NHS Evidence website for any guidelines mentioning CAM. Phase 2 requested 47 individuals from 30 UKprofessional organizations (18 different CAM therapies) to complete an online survey.Results: Phase 1 identified 30 NHS guidelines and 13 from a previous search. Phase 2 received responses from 20 organizations (15 therapies) whoidentified 17 additional eligible guidelines – a final total of 60 guidelines. Acupuncture, specific herbs, supplements, manual therapy or massage,were most frequently mentioned. 44% provided inconclusive indications (‘does not recommend’) either due to a lack of evidence or another reason.Guidelines recommending CAM and advising against CAM were almost equally common (N = 26 or 27, 19%). Professional CAM bodies werelargely unaware of clinical guidelines mentioning their therapy but were positive about the use of guidelines, particularly in helping integrate CAM.Conclusions: Evaluating individual practitioners’ awareness and use of guidelines, involving them in future guideline development and assessingthe impact of guidelines on practice requires further investigation. It may be the responsibility of professional organizations to be involved in futureguideline development by improving the channels of communication with government and the NHS, and prioritizing further research to build theevidence base for CAM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164–175
JournalEuropean Journal of Integrative Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


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