Healing Tool Series: NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health Clinical Practice Guidelines

Clinical practice guidelines focused on, or containing information about, complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine.

“Healing Tools” summaries are a collection of evidence-based resources to help providers and patients use integrative health approaches to improve health and wellbeing.

This tool is for: Providers

This tool was created by: NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

SUMMARY

What is this tool for?

The vast amount of evidence about diseases, conditions, and treatments, and a lack of easily accessible information about complementary and integrative health approaches makes it difficult for providers to stay updated.

According to the Institute of Medicine, clinical practice guidelines help providers by providing “recommendations intended to optimize patient care that are informed by a systematic review of evidence and an assessment of the benefits and harms of alternative care options.”

Guidelines Covering Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine

The NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health offers clinical practice guidelines focused on, or containing information about, complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine.

The guidelines are issued by third-party organizations, such as:

  • NIH National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
  • Professional societies such as:
    • American Academy of Pediatrics
    • American Academy of Neurology
    • American College of Physicians
    • American Heart Association
    • American Pain Society
  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

The guidelines are organized into 12 areas:

  • Allergy and Immunology
  • Cardiology
  • Family Medicine
  • Gastroenterology
  • Men’s Health
  • Neurology
  • Oncology
  • Pain Management
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatry and Mental Health
  • Rheumatology
  • Women’s Health

Most of the guidelines are general guidelines for managing diseases and conditions, with some information on complementary and integrative medicine. Some of the guidelines focus exclusively on complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine.

Examples of guidelines focused on complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine:

How does this contribute to an integrative approach?

Many of the clinical practice guidelines integrate conventional medicine, self-care, and complementary and alternative medicine, enabling providers to evaluate all available treatments and choose the best option(s) for each patient. Guidelines focused exclusively on complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine enable providers to evaluate these options along with conventional care.

What does the evidence say about this tool?

Clinical practice guidelines are based on a systematic review and synthesis of the existing evidence. A knowledgeable, multidisciplinary panel of experts and representatives from key stakeholder groups then develops each guidelines document.

What are the drawbacks to using this tool?

Some of the guidelines are old. Incomplete data is not uncommon and topics may be missing. There is a process to reduce bias but this cannot guarantee that guidelines are completely free of bias from the experts.

Who created this tool?

The NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (formerly called the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) is the federal government’s lead agency for scientific research on medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine. The center funds and conducts research to help answer scientific and public health questions about complementary health approaches.


ABOUT THESE INTEGRATIVE HEALTH TOOLS

At Samueli Integrative Health Programs, we believe that achieving optimal health and well-being requires an integrative health approach—one that combines and coordinates conventional medicine, self-care, and complementary and alternative medicine.

Translating Evidence into Action

The goal of these summaries is to help providers and patients learn about and access evidence-based integrative health tools. Each featured tool has been vetted by Samueli Integrative Health Programs. Read about more Healing Tools.

Disclosures:

Samueli Integrative Health Programs is a public service of H&S Ventures and does not profit from any of the tools featured in these summaries.

 Patients: Contact your provider before starting any new health program.  Show him/her these resources.