As 2016 draws to a close, we here at the Cochrane Complementary Medicine Field (CAM Field) are celebrating an important milestone: our 20th birthday. In 1996, Dr. Brian Berman brought together a group of leading CAM researchers committed to developing and promoting evidence-based practice in complementary and integrative health. They knew that more systematic reviews were needed on complementary medical interventions. They also knew that this information would have the greatest impact if it reached beyond researchers to the wider community of patients and healthcare professionals.
How are we doing in reaching our objectives? There are now more than 70,000 CAM-related randomized controlled trials included in Cochrane’s research database. Over a third of these studies cannot be found in standard databases such as MEDLINE, but were identified by searching often-overlooked research journals and databases. Making these studies available has significantly increased Cochrane’s ability to carry out CAM-related systematic reviews. As of December 2016, over 700 systematic reviews related to complementary and alternative medical practices have been completed, and more than 200 additional reviews are in progress.
To reach our community, we regularly publish summaries of Cochrane CAM review findings in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine and Explore: the Journal of Science and Healing. In 2014, we launched the Cochrane CAM website, which offers an A –Z directory of all Cochrane reviews on CAM therapies from acai to zinc. On the website, researchers and practitioners can sign up for regular Cochrane CAM updates and find tools to report a CAM trial or participate in a systematic review. Last year, we started the Cochrane CAM blog, which translates our findings into an engaging format accessible to the average consumer. This year we added a Cochrane CAM Facebook page and Twitter feed to offer new ways for our community to learn and engage.
What are our goals for 2017? Continuing to increase the number of CAM-related research and reviews. Expanding our efforts to reach CAM consumers. Engaging patients and practitioners alike in new prioritization activities to help ensure that we address the issues most relevant to affected communities. Strengthening our research knowledge translation skills to ensure we communicate to multiple audiences effectively. Developing new resources to encourage care providers to incorporate evidence-based CAM information into their interactions with patients.
Although Cochrane CAM started as one man’s vision, it is the efforts of hundreds of volunteers around the world that make this vision a reality – a true collaboration to carry out CAM-related systematic reviews. We also are deeply grateful to the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, whose funding makes possible the staff and materials necessary to achieve our objectives. Thanks to the hard work of the Cochrane CAM community, we help ensure that patients receive effective CAM treatments and evidence-based information. We look forward to seeing these efforts expand in 2017 and beyond.