An independent advisory group convened by the King’s Fund and chaired by Professor Dame Carol Black has said that more research into the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of complementary medicines is required. Assessing complementary practice: building consensus on appropriate research methods, published by The King’s Fund today, aims to establish agreement on the ways in which research might be conducted that both the conventional and complementary health care communities can support.
Professor Dame Carol Black commented: ‘It has become widely accepted that a stronger evidence base is needed if we are to reach a better understanding of complementary practices and ensure greater confidence in their clinical and cost effectiveness. The challenge is to develop methods of research that allow us to assess the value of an approach that seeks to integrate the physical intervention, the personal context in which it is given, and non-specific effects that together comprise a particular therapy.’
Commenting on the importance of making progress in this area, The King’s Fund Chief Executive, Niall Dickson said: ‘Where complementary therapies are offered as part of the NHS it is imperative that those responsible for spending public money base their decisions on sound evidence. We need to understand more about the costs and benefits.
‘Doctors and patients need robust evidence to make informed decisions – more research will play a vital role in showing what works and what does not, what is cost effective and what is not.’
The report is the result of debate between experts in the fields of medical research, funding and practice. It draws on contributions by researchers, academics, practitioners and funders of research at a two-day consensus conference into complementary practice, arranged by The King’s Fund, which took place 22–23 October 2007.