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Safety and Patient Preferences, Not Just Effectiveness, Should Guide Medical Treatment Decisions

New Rochelle, NY, May 12, 2011-The results of clinical drug trials are only one tool for judging the safety and potential benefit of medical therapies and should not overshadow equally important factors such as risk and patient preferences when selecting treatment options, assert the authors of a provocative article in Alternative and Complementary Therapies, published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The article is available free online
 
Andrew Weil, MD, founder and director of the Program in Integrative Medicine and professor, University of Arizona (Tucson), Scott Shannon, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, University of Colorado (Denver), and Bonnie Kaplan, PhD, professor, University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada), clearly differentiate between current medical decision making (MDM) practices, which tend to emphasize randomized controlled trial results and treatment efficacy, and what they view as a better approach to MDM. In the setting of integrative medicine, MDM should incorporate three main factors: safety of a treatment, including general and patient-specific risk factors; effectiveness; and patient-driven variables such as individual needs and desires, cost and access, and the patient's belief system. 

The authors propose a revised scale for rating a treatment's efficacy that includes alternative criteria, explain why treatment benefit is just one aspect of assessing the value of a medical therapy, and propose a scale for considering risk issues in their article "Medical Decision Making in Integrative Medicine: Safety, Efficacy, and Patient Preference."

Alternative and Complementary Therapies is a bimonthly journal that publishes original articles, reviews, and commentaries evaluating alternative therapies and how they can be integrated into clinical practice. Topics include botanical medicine, vitamins and supplements, nutrition and diet, mind-body medicine, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, ayurveda, indigenous medicine systems, homeopathy, naturopathy, yoga and meditation, manual therapies, energy medicine, and spirituality and health. A complete table of contents and free sample issue may be viewed online