NCCAM Director
Josephine Briggs

In the last couple of years, NCCAM has gradually developed its web site to be more responsive to public interest in CAM and integrative medicine. In May it took another step and launched a blog written by director Josephine Briggs, MD. Readers may make comments on each post, which are reviewed before being added.

In her post of May 24, “Integrative”—What Is in a Word?
Briggs focuses on a topic of signal importance as the field begins to become far more integrated with and understood by convention practice and therapy: the definition of “integrative medicine.”

This “integrative” trend among providers and health care systems is growing. Driving factors include perceived benefit in health or well-being, emerging evidence in at least some cases that perceived benefits of integrative are real and/or meaningful (e.g., management of chronic pain), and marketing of “integrative care” by health care providers to consumers.

In her post of June 18, 2012, Dr. Briggs reports from the recent NIH Pain Consortium’s 7th Annual Symposium on Advances in Pain Research.

Briggs reports that she “…enjoyed hearing about rigorous studies testing nonpharmacological approaches, such as massage, behavioral therapies, and mindfulness meditation.”

Clearly, drugs are, and will remain, critically important in managing pain, but drugs alone are not enough. There is another important piece to pain management—patients also need strategies for self-care and ways to harness the huge impact that context, attention, emotional state, and reassurance can have on pain. NCCAM is bringing a special contribution to pain research by pursuing promising, nonpharmacological approaches to pain management; about 30 percent of our total research budget is focused on pain.

It is always worth noting that NCCAM, unlike its sister research units at NIH, deals almost entirely with real-world, on-the-street-now issues of medical efficacy for therapies and healing approaches that have been used by the public for decades. CAM and integrative practices are already deeply embedded in that real world. These recent efforts to connect with the public are not easily constructed by a medical science research organization, so it is good, and timely, to see NCCAM expand its relationships with it most important stakeholders.