Highlights from the International Research Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health 2012

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine was pleased to attend the International Research Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health (IRCIMH) 2012 in Portland, Oregon, USA. The conference saw the coming together of almost 1000 clinicians, researchers, and students from all over the globe and all disciplines of Integrative Medicine.

Delegates were given the chance to start each day with a relaxing experiential session of meditation or yoga, or to opt for a more energetic 5km jog of the Portland bridges before enjoying a packed day of plenary sessions, concurrent sessions, oral abstracts, and poster presentations. These covered a broad range of topics within Integrative Medicine, ranging from the use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) by the military to the safety of Pediatric CAM.

A key focus of the of the conference was on methodology, with topical talks and discussions on how best to measure the effectiveness of Integrative Medicine. Within these talks, a key area covered was Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) which was discussed in informative talks from Michael Lauer, Sean Tunis, and BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine Section Editor, Claudia Witt. CER aims to test the effectiveness of treatments to produce the most generalizable results that are most relevant to clinical practice and policy makers.

Claudia Witt’s talk entitled ‘International Perspectives on Acupuncture Research – Where Do We Stand, Where Should We Go?’ provided an interesting look at how to measure the efficacy and effectiveness of acupuncture and which controls are most appropriate when investigating different outcomes. The talk covered the validity of different controls (e.g. sham acupuncture, active treatment control) in the investigation of acupuncture in different settings, as well as results of the first meta-analysis on fMRI studies for acupuncture.

Irving Kirsch gave an engaging and thought-provoking talk on the placebo effect in his plenary session ‘Placebo as an Ethical Alternative’ which sparked much discussion. Using the example of antidepressants for mild depression, he explored the ethics of giving active pharmacological treatment where the efficacy of the treatment was smaller, but the side effects greater, than the placebo effect. He also discussed how our knowledge of the placebo effect may be used in clinical practice without compromising clinical ethics with particular regard to informed patient consent.

The 2013 International Congress on Complementary Medicine Research (ICCMR) takes place from 11-13th April 2013 in London, England, and we look forward to seeing you there.