In December 2014, the National Institute of Health (NIH) changed the name of its complementary and integrative health agency from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) to better align with the organization’s strategic plan for public education and research.
Integrative medicine is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary perspective in medical diagnosis, treatment, and prevention which brings together the best of complementary and conventional therapies. Due to its efficacy, applying the integrative approach to health and wellness has substantially expanded in the numerous healthcare facilities in the United States over the past few years. Large population-based surveys across the U.S. have shown that while nonconventional therapies are widely used to complement conventional medicine, the use of unproven nonconventional therapies to completely replace conventional medicine as “alternative medicine” is rare.
Consequently, in December 2014, the National Institute of Health (NIH), the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research changed the name of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), as ordered by an omnibus budget measure by President Obama. When the center invited public input on the revised name in May and June 2014, most supported the change.
The name change remains in line with the center’s pre-existing congressional mandate and is aligned with the strategic plan guiding the center’s research priorities. “Since its establishment 16 years ago, the work of the center has reflected the importance of studying the approaches to health and wellness that the public is using, often without the benefit of rigorous scientific study,” says NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. According to Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., Director of NCCIH, “the mission…will remain unchanged, to focus on assessing the usefulness and safety of novel complementary and integrative interventions, and provide patients and the public with appropriate knowledge to enhance quality healthcare choices.” Research priorities include studying modalities such as spinal manipulation, meditation, and massage, which mitigate pain and reduce adverse side effects that sometimes go untreated or exacerbated under conventional treatment.
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