Alternative approaches to healing
Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) has one of the nation's leading teams researching alternative approaches to healing. The team uses rigorous scientific methods to evaluate the effectiveness—and cost-effectiveness—of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies delivered as in real-world practice.
GHRI researchers work with investigators at the University of Washington (UW), Harvard University, Oregon Health and Science University, and Kaiser Permanente to study CAM therapies. Many of the studies concern musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain, which accounts for a large portion of visits to alternative providers.
"Our research has shown that massage, yoga, acupuncture, and to a lesser extent spinal manipulation help relieve chronic low back pain," said GHRI Senior Investigator Dan Cherkin, PhD. "But the reasons why these treatments are helpful remain unclear."
One possibility is that the relaxation aspects of those treatments may be more important than the physical ones. Also, CAM practitioners often approach their patients with optimism, offer suggestions for ways they can achieve more balance in their lives, and coach them on becoming more involved in their own healing and self-care.
"Evidence is growing that the mind and body are intricately connected, with both important for healing to occur," said Senior Investigator Karen Sherman, PhD, MPH. "We hope to bring greater healing into primary care and harness the mind-body connection to enhance healing for various health problems that don't respond well to conventional treatments."
- Susan D. Reed, MD, MPH
Harborview Medical Center; University of Washington (UW) Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Recent publications on alternative approaches to healing
Hsu C, Bluespruce J, Sherman K, Cherkin D. Unanticipated benefits of CAM therapies for back pain: an exploration of patient experiences. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(2):157-63. PubMed
Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Cook AJ, Hawkes RJ, Deyo RA, Wellman R, Khalsa PS. Comparison of yoga versus stretching for chronic low back pain: protocol for the Yoga Exercise Self-care (YES) trial. Trials. 2010;11(1):36. PubMed
Sherman KJ, Ludman EJ, Cook AJ, Hawkes RJ, Roy-Byrne PP, Bentley S, Brooks MZ, Cherkin DC. Effectiveness of therapeutic massage for generalized anxiety disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Depress Anxiety. 2010 May;27(5):441-50. Epub 2010 Feb 23. PubMed
Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Avins AL, Erro JH, Ichikawa L, Barlow WE, Delaney K, Hawkes R, Hamilton L, Pressman A, Khalsa PS, Deyo RA. A randomized trial comparing acupuncture, simulated acupuncture, and usual care for chronic low back pain. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(9):858-66. PubMed
Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Ichikawa L, Avins AL, Barlow WE, Khalsa PS, Deyo RA. Characteristics of patients with chronic back pain who benefit from acupuncture. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2009;10(1):114. PubMed
Reed SD, Newton KM, LaCroix AZ, Grothaus LC, Grieco VS, Ehrlich K. Vaginal, endometrial, and reproductive hormone findings: randomized, placebo-controlled trial of black cohosh, multibotanical herbs, and dietary soy for vasomotor symptoms: the Herbal Alternatives for Menopause (HALT) Study. Menopause. 2008;15(1):51-8. Epub 2007 Jul 6. PubMed
Eisenberg DM, Post DE, Davis RB, Connelly MT, Legedza AT, Hrbek AL, Prosser LA, Buring JE, Inui TS, Cherkin DC. Addition of choice of complementary therapies to usual care for acute low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Spine. 2007;32(2):151-8. PubMed
Reed SD, Newton KM, LaCroix AZ, Grothaus LC, Ehrlich K. Night sweats, sleep disturbance, and depression associated with diminished libido in late menopausal transition and early postmenopause: baseline data from the Herbal Alternatives for Menopause Trial (HALT). Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007;196(6):593.e1-7; discussion 593.e7. PubMed
Spangler L, Newton KM, Grothaus LC, Reed SD, Ehrlich K, LaCroix AZ. The effects of black cohosh therapies on lipids, fibrinogen, glucose and insulin. Maturitas. 2007;57(2):195-204. Epub 2007 Feb 1. PubMed
Newton KM, Reed SD, LaCroix AZ, Grothaus LC, Ehrlich K, Guiltinan J. Treatment of vasomotor symptoms of menopause with black cohosh, multibotanicals, soy, hormone therapy, or placebo: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2006;145(12):869-79. PubMed
Our major research interests
- Aging & geriatrics
- Alternative approaches to healing
- Behavior change
- Cancer control
- Cardiovascular health
- Child & adolescent health
- Chronic illness management
- Health informatics
- Health services & economics
- Immunization & infectious diseases
- Medication use & patient safety
- Mental health
- Preventive medicine
- Women's health