Survey Reveals Parents Are Eager to Learn about Alternative Medicine Options
but Information is Lacking
Parents Unaware that Integrative Treatment May Reduce their Child’s Dependence
on Drugs and Improve Quality of Life
WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ — A new nationwide survey released today
reveals that just 12 percent of parents with children under the age of 18
have spoken to their child’s doctor about complementary and integrative approaches
to medicine, yet nearly 90 percent say they want to know more. The survey,
conducted by Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota (Children’s),
assessed parents’ attitudes about various approaches to treating a child’s
illnesses. Integrative medicine combines the best conventional medical
therapies like drugs, chemotherapy and surgery, with complementary therapies
like massage, acupuncture and proper nutrition.
The survey showed parents are concerned about the overuse of prescription
medications with their children; 85 percent feel it’s important to minimize a
child’s dependence on drugs, especially for behavioral issues like attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or anxiety. Complementary and
alternative approaches can be a solution to this concern as more natural
treatments are being found to be effective in the management of a variety of
children’s health concerns.
Parents also feel strongly about eliminating their child’s pain and improving
quality of life; almost 90 percent feel both these factors are as important as
treating their child’s condition. Complementary and alternative medicine
focuses on non-drug, less invasive therapies like acupuncture, massage and
relaxation to help kids more effectively control pain, maintain mental health,
and improve quality of life.
“Many children with chronic or acute health conditions seek a complementary or
integrative approach only after they have exhausted all other conventional
treatment options,” said Timothy Culbert, MD, Medical Director of Pediatric
Integrative Medicine Clinical Programs at Children’s. “Parents should be aware
that integrative medicine can be helpful from the onset of disease and can
save time, money and most importantly, improve a child’s quality of life. This
is true for all kinds of conditions including acute illnesses like cancer or
chronic problems like migraines or behavioral issues.”
Children’s is among the country’s leaders in the integrative medicine field
with the largest, longest-running pediatric, clinical integrative medicine
program in North America. The program offers a holistic approach to care, and
helps children and their families manage the everyday struggles of illnesses
in a more comprehensive way. Currently more than half of patients at
Children’s use some sort of outpatient complementary or alternative medicine
to help manage their conditions.
Almost 90 percent of parents surveyed indicated they would like to find out
more information about integrative medicine whether it be from their
physician, going to a hospital that offers an integrative medicine program, or
seeking out more information on their own. Other interesting findings include:
— Sixty-eight percent of parents agreed integrative medicine was an
effective treatment approach.
— More than three-fourths of parents agree combining conventional and
complementary/alternative approaches to medicine is innovative and
hospitals should offer medical experts on both conventional and
— Almost two-thirds of parents who have children with serious health
issues had never considered an integrative approach because they are
unfamiliar with the subject.
The survey of 1,003 parents included 203 parents with kids who have serious,
chronic or acute health problems. This subset of parents had somewhat more
knowledge of integrative medicine (42 percent), but even these parents are not
hearing about the benefits an integrative approach can bring their child. Of
the parents that have used integrative medicine as part of their child’s
treatment, 95 percent had a positive experience.
“Parents need to consult and work with their child’s physician to determine
what integrative medicine options are available that may be helpful,” says Dr.
Culbert. “There are so many different kinds of complementary therapies, it’s
important to learn about options to find an approach that will work best for
each patient. I see first-hand every day the difference it can make in a
More information about the Children’s Integrative Medicine Program can be
found by visiting www.childrensintegrativemed.org.
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