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Daily Archives: August 3, 2011

The Obstacles and Barriers to CAM or Alt-Med Research

By |August 3, 2011|Editorial, Research|

The Obstacles and Barriers to CAM or Alt-Med Research

The Chiro.Org Blog

SOURCE:   Testimony to the White House Commission On
Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy

By Anthony L. Rosner, Ph.D.

FCER Director of Research and Education


Until 25 years ago, chiropractic research was vastly underdeveloped and appeared to some as an oxymoron. In 1975, a conference at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) concluded that “There are little scientific data of significance to evaluate this (chiropractic’s) clinical approach to health and to the treatment of disease.” [1] From that time onward, both clinical and basic research have advanced to the point at which:

(i) over 40 randomized clinical trials comparing spinal manipulation with other treatments in the management of back pain have been published in the scientific literature, [2, 3]

(ii) meta-analysis and systematic reviews attesting to the support of spinal manipulation in the management of back pain [4, 5] have also appeared, and

(iii) multidisciplinary panels representing the governments of the United States, [6] Canada, [7] Great Britain, [8] Sweden, [9] Denmark, [10] Australia, [11] and New Zealand [12] have expressed similar recognition of the robust evidence base in support of spinal manipulation for managing low back conditions.


The efforts to launch and develop a National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) within the framework of the NIH are indeed admirable, taking the Center from a humble $2 million annual budget in 1991 to one that approaches $70 million today. This has taken place despite the comments of highly visible and influential individuals within the medical community to discredit alternative medicine in virtually any shape or form, a topic that I shall return to momentarily.

The following are what I believe to be the most significant barriers to research efforts in alternative medicine, the barriers having either remained in place or only recently having been removed.

1. Collaborative Arrangements: (more…)