CAM at Minority or Health Disparities Research Centers (R21)

Environmental Health Perspectives, January 2007 | Go to article overview

CAM at Minority or Health Disparities Research Centers (R21)


The purposes of this initiative are to: 1) stimulate high-quality, preliminary studies of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) at institutions committed to minority health research or health disparities research, as evidenced by having received a grant from National Institutes of health (NIH) or the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) for a research center on minority health or health disparities relating to racial and ethnic minority populations; 2) increase the knowledge base regarding CAM and health disparities; 3) attract investigators experienced in minority health and health disparities research to the field of CAM; and 4) provide a stable scientific environment where CAM practitioners can participate actively in rigorous research.

The purpose of this solicitation is to stimulate research that will enhance the understanding of the mechanisms of CAM interventions and increase the knowledge base regarding the potential role of CAM practices, including traditional indigenous medicine practices, either in reducing and eliminating health disparities, or regarding minority health. This program announcement will support exploratory/developmental (R21) research projects on CAM interventions at institutions that have received NIH or AHRQ awards for research centers on minority health or health disparities. The infrastructure and resources of these centers may be used to support basic, preclinical, clinical, translational, and health services research projects addressing issues relating to CAM and minority health or health disparities. For the purpose of this program announcement, an eligible institution is defined as one that has received funding from NIH or AHRQ for a single organizational entity incorporating multiple research projects and associated project cores. The list of program announcements from which eligible centers are funded may be found at the website (http://nccam.nih.gov/announcements/disparitiesPAR.htm).

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) defines CAM practices as those that are "unproven by science and not presently considered an integral part of conventional medicine" (http://nccam.nih.gov/about/plans/2005/index.htm). NCCAM groups the wide range of CAM modalities into four domains: 1) mind-body medicine; 2) biologically based practices; 3) manipulative and body-based practices; and 4) energy medicine. In addition, NCCAM studies whole medical systems, such as Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, traditional indigenous medicine, and homeopathy. Mind-body interventions use a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind's capacity to affect body functions and symptoms.

Mind-body techniques that are considered CAM include prayer, mental healing, and therapies that use creative outlets such as art, music, or dance, and meditation for selected purposes. Other techniques that were considered CAM in the past have become mainstream, such as patient support groups and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Biologically based practices for prevention and therapy use foods and their components, diets, and dietary supplements such as vitamins, herbs, and other natural products.

Manipulation and body-based methods in CAM are based on manipulation and/or movement of one or more parts of the body. Examples include chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, and massage therapy.

Energy therapies are of two types: 1) biofield therapies (e.g., qi gong, Reiki, and therapeutic touch), which are intended to affect energy fields that surround and penetrate the human body, and 2) bioelectromagnetic-based therapies that involve the unconventional use of electromagnetic fields such as pulsed fields, magnetic fields, or alternating current or direct current fields for selected purposes.

Although numerous surveys document use of CAM by the general population, less information is available on CAM use by racial and ethnic minority populations. …

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