The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has established an Integrative Medicine Consult Service at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, the world’s largest hospital devoted to research. This service will provide physicians, nurses, and other members of the Clinical Center health care team the ability to discuss complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies with knowledgeable medical staff from the consult service and learn how various CAM practices might complement or interact with a patient’s care as a research participant at the Clinical Center.
CAM is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine, such as herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic manipulation, and acupuncture. Integrative medicine combines treatments from conventional medicine and CAM for which there is high-quality evidence of safety and effectiveness.
The 2002 National Health Interview Survey showed that more than one-third of all American adults use some form of CAM. And a recent consumer survey of older Americans revealed that less than one-third of those who had used CAM discussed this information with their physicians. Since patients at the Clinical Center are participating in research studies, it is important to know what CAM therapies are being used and how they might affect the treatments being studied.
“Volunteers who participate in clinical research at the NIH Clinical Center are partners in medical discovery. We are committed to providing excellent care for them,” said John I. Gallin, M.D., Director of the Clinical Center. “This new consult service will help enhance the care they receive and the research conducted here.”
CAM is not a new concept at the NIH Clinical Center. The Clinical Center’s Pain and Palliative Care Service and the Rehabilitation Medicine Department offer acupuncture, Reiki, hypnosis, guided imagery, massage therapy, acupuncture, tai chi, and qi gong training. The Pharmacy Department consults on herbals and herb/drug interactions and has conducted research in these areas. The Integrative Medicine Consult Service will coordinate the resources of these existing services to meet the needs of the Clinical Center staff and its patients. In addition to offering clinical consultation regarding CAM therapies, the service will establish a research program embedded in NIH’s clinical and translational research structure and provide CAM education for NIH staff, patients, and their families.
The director of the consult service will be Patrick J. Mansky, M.D., a clinical oncologist and researcher at NCCAM. Dr. Mansky received his medical degree from Witten/Herdecke University Medical School in Germany, where he also gained experience and received instruction in Anthroposophical Medicine including herbal therapies, art therapies, and physical applications. After a postdoctoral research fellowship in immunogenetics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, he completed clinical residency training in pediatrics and internal medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. Dr. Mansky joined NIH in 1997 as a clinical and research fellow in pediatric hematology/oncology and medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute.
“I am delighted that Dr. Mansky accepted the position of head of the consult service. This service will provide a focal point for CAM evaluation, research, and education in the NIH intramural community,” said Robert B. Nussenblatt, M.D., Acting Scientific and Clinical Director of NCCAM’s Division of Intramural Research. “I hope the larger medical community will find this an important new addition to the evaluation and treatment of our patients.”
In 2001, Dr. Mansky joined NCCAM as a staff clinician and clinical investigator leading the Oncology Program in NCCAM’s Division of Intramural Research. He conducts research on the application of CAM interventions in the care and treatment of cancer patients and survivors, such as electroacupuncture for nausea from chemotherapy, use of mistletoe in combination with gemcitabine for treating advanced cancers, and effects of tai chi and exercise in cancer survivors.
“We are pleased with the creation of the Integrative Medicine Consult Service and the role we hope it will play in providing Clinical Center patients with the best possible integrated care,” said, Ruth L. Kirschstein, M.D., Acting Director of NCCAM. “Dr. Mansky’s blend of clinical and research experience at the crossroads of the CAM and conventional medicine fields makes him an excellent choice to lead this consult service.”