Online Program

CAM practitioners: Public health partners for promoting healthy lifestyles

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 2:50 p.m. - 3:10 p.m.

Myra Muramoto, MD, MPH, Family & Community Medicine College of Medicine Professor, Public Health Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Mark Nichter, PhD, School of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Cheryl Ritenbaugh, PhD, MPH, Department of Family and Community Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Judith Gordon, PhD, Department of Family and Community Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
James Cunningham, PhD, Department of Family and Community Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Introduction: Lifestyle-related diseases are leading causes of US morbidity and mortality, spurring increased efforts to promote healthy behaviors. With growing complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in the US, CAM practitioners are an increasingly important part of the health care system. CAM practitioners' training, healing paradigms, and practice patterns may be better suited to healthy lifestyle promotion than conventional practitioners. This presentation reports Arizona data exploring CAM practitioners' potential role in public health. Methods: In a study of tobacco cessation training for CAM practitioners, we conducted key informant interviews with chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists. Interviews addressed practice patterns, attitudes toward and experiences with tobacco cessation, second hand smoke and other lifestyle behaviors, and the CAM practitioner's role in public health. Results: CAM practitioners were strongly committed to promoting healthy lifestyles, identifying several opportunities and challenges in motivating behavior change. Practitioners' appointments tended to be more frequent and longer than conventional practitioners. They desired more skills and strategies for helping their patients/clients modify unhealthy behaviors, and perceived a public health role for CAM practitioners. Discussion: Although not traditionally seen as partners in the field of public health, the CAM practitioners interviewed were actively engaged in improving patients'/clients' health-related behaviors. Longer and more frequent appointments placed these practitioners in good position to offer behavior change support. Practitioners expressed a desire for behavior change instruction and a willingness to join a tobacco cessation community of practice. The potential for CAM practitioners teaming up with behavior change experts from public health deserves encouragement.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify three aspects of CAM practitioners’ practice patterns and professional training that would facilitate practice-based healthy lifestyle promotion Identify three reasons why CAM practitioners’ professional knowledge, attitudes and practice behaviors warrant their inclusion in the nation’s public health agenda.

Keyword(s): Community Outreach, Alternative Medicine/Therapies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal of multiple federally funded grants focusing on community based training for tobacco cessation as well as behavioral and pharmacotherapeutic treatments for tobacco cessation. Scholarly interests include integrative medicine, comparative effectiveness research, and community based public health intervention.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.