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What is "Integrative medicine"?

Background of this project

Since 2011, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in Japan has held a “Study Group on Concept in Integrative Medicine” and has discussed the current situations and issues of integrative medical care. As a result, the “Summary of Discussions to Date” was compiled and published in February 2013 and the following recommendations made about future efforts in this area.

Below: Excerpts from “Summary of Discussions to Date”

Future initiatives

(1) General policies

Integrative Medicine is diverse and is a complex mixture of good and bad. Also, currently, it cannot be said that scientific knowledge is sufficient regarding complementary and alternative therapies as a whole, nor can it be said that both the patient and the public are sufficiently familiar with them.

Under such circumstances, it is critical to earn the trust of patients and citizens in order to advance integrative medicine. First, safety and effectiveness must be established in an appropriate form. It is inappropriate to provide medical care that cannot ensure safety and effectiveness to patients and the public.

For patients who are faced with the limits of currently available therapies, there is a possibility that they may see some hopes in other alternative therapies. However, in such cases, it is critical that trustworthy knowledge about complementary and alternative therapies is available, amidst the flood of information.

In light of such circumstances, we plan to collect scientific knowledge on the safety and effectiveness of each therapy that is part of integrative medical care and widely disseminate the information necessary. It is critical not only for patients and the public, but for doctors, to understand and be able to properly select complementary and alternative therapies.

(2) Concrete efforts

Specifically, it will be important to establish a system for collecting both domestic and international academic papers regarding the various types of therapies as well as approaches combining contemporary Western medicine and other therapies in Japan. In addition, we will be supporting doctors and other professionals charged with patient care to conduct clinical researches and other initiatives to collect and share their results. We are expected to concurrently promote practical approaches of sharing the research results thereby to achieve compilation of scientific knowledge on “Integrative Medicine”.

In addition, after gathering such information and scientific knowledge, it is critical to collaborate with various public institutions for a challenge to create a mechanism to disseminate such information widely using the Internet and other sources.

In doing so, given the deluge of information where some say that people are more likely to seek simplified answers, like “what are the results so far?” It is extremely essential to deliver this information accurately.

For this reason, it is critical that physicians, medical staff, and researchers should be in current with reliable information and be able to provide them in an easy way for patients and citizens who consult them about medical treatments. Thus, we must explore mechanisms for distributing information that make it easy for medical staff and researchers to utilize.

Figure: Disseminating information about “Integrative medicine”
Purpose and objectives
  • Integrative Medicine is diverse and is a complex mixture of good and bad. Also, currently, it cannot be said that scientific knowledge is sufficient regarding complementary and alternative therapies as a whole, nor can it be said that both the patient and the public are sufficiently familiar with them.
  • For each therapy of "integrative medicine ", for patients, citizens, and physicians to make informed decisions about treatment, we must collect the available scientific knowledge on safety and effectiveness and widely disseminate the necessary information.
Figure: Disseminating Information about “Integrative Medicine” 【[Collecting scientific findings] Form an investigation committee* to consider the findings from the viewpoint of scientific reliability, to implement the following: ・Examples of sources of scientific findings [Investigation committee*
 Investigation committee*:Cochrane Review Abstracts, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (U.S.), Scientific findings accumulated from both international and domestic representative sources, Academic papers (both International and Domestic)→ (1) Research the literature(2) Translate the abstracts of literature(3) Assign the level of evidence 【[Provision of information]
The investigation committee* analyzes and formats the findings for publication to the website of a publicly managed entity.
Appropriate addition and update of post information. Link to other related public access databases. Website Image of posted information [Name of therapy] [Evidence Level][Source] (Name of scientific journal) (Name of literature) [Content of journal report] ・Safety ・Effectiveness (etc.)→Access by health professionals , Access by patients and the general public

Excerpted from “Summary of Discussions to Date,” Study Group on Concept of Integrative Medicine (Abstract)

In 2013, we focused on creating links with “Cochrane Review Abstract” and the United States’ “National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health,” as well as, domestically, providing evidence on Anma (Japanese massage therapy), massage, and Shiatsu (acupressure). Currently, we have published on the site limited information for which we have usage rights, but we will continue to add and modify information as we gain access to it.

In addition, the minutes and materials from “Study Group on Concept of Integrative Medicine,” held from 2011, are provided on the site (below) for your reference.

Documents from the proceedings Study Group on Concept of Integrative Medicine
Meeting
Number
Event Date Agenda Minutes
/Summary
[in Japanese]
Supplementary Materials
[in Japanese]
Flier
[in Japanese]
February 22, 2013 Summary of Discussions to Date Docs
5 February 8, 2013 1. Summarization of opinions
2. Other
Minutes Docs Flier
4 October 5, 2012 1. Dissemination of Information about “integrative Medicine”
2. Summarization of Discussion Points
3. Other
Minutes Docs Flier
3 August 6, 2012 1. Regarding Evidence of “Integrative Medical Care” 2. Analysis of Discussion Points 3. Other Minutes Docs Flier
2 April 25, 2012 1. Regarding Evaluation Methods of “Integrative Medical Care”
2. Other
Minutes Docs Flier
1 March 26, 2012 1. What is “Integrative Medicine”
2. Other
Minutes Docs Flier

Released: March 28, 2014

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