When it comes to getting the benefits of yoga or mediation, it could now be just what the doctor ordered.
One in 30 Americans using mind- body therapies like yoga and meditation has been referred by a medical provider, according to a new study from Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Up until now, mind-body therapies have been considered to be on the fringe of mainstream medical care in America. But new research suggests that attitudes are changing.
“There’s good evidence to support using mind-body therapies clinically,” said lead author Aditi Nerurkar, MD. “Still, we didn’t expect to see provider referral rates that were quite so high.”
The results of the study on mind- body therapies appears in the May 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Survey of Mind -Body Therapy Use
Nerurkar and her colleagues collected information on use of mind- body therapies from more than 23,000 U.S. households from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. They found that nearly 3 percent (representing more than 6.3 million Americans) used mind-body therapies due to provider referral and that these Americans were sicker and used the health care system more than people who self-referred for mind-body therapies.
“What we learned suggests that providers are referring their patients for mind-body therapies as a last resort once conventional therapeutic options have failed. It makes us wonder whether referring patients for these therapies earlier in the treatment process could lead to less use of the health care system, and possibly, better outcomes for these patients,” said Nerurkar.
Mind- Body Therapies Now Mainstream?
“These data suggest that mind-body therapies have really become a mainstream approach to care,” adds Russell Phillips, MD, Chief of Primary Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the senior author on the study. “But more research is needed to guide physician and patient decision-making regarding their use.”
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Archives of Internal Medicine, 2011 May 9;171(9):862-4. “When conventional medical providers recommend unconventional medicine: results of a national study.” Nerurkar A, Yeh G, Davis RB, Birdee G, Phillips RS. Osher Research Center, Harvard Medical School, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Ste 1030, Boston, MA 02115.
This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center www.bidmc.org is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and currently ranks third in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.