Cohen, M. CAM practitioners and “regular” doctors: is integration possible? Medical Journal of Australia 2004; 180 (12): 645-646
Integrated clinics have already been established in response to community demand. The growing evidence base for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and its widespread community use compels doctors to understand complementary therapies and to refer patients to CAM practitioners where appropriate. Most general practitioners have patients with chronic illness who could benefit from the services of CAM practitioners, and virtually all CAM practitioners have patients who require access to mainstream diagnosis and therapy. Collaboration requires shared respect and trust, and education. Dangers of not integrating care include delaying or depriving patients of safe and effective management, and the potential for harmful interactions. Integration is currently being supported by government initiatives such as the new MedicarePlus package, as well as by initiatives from organisations such as the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association.