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Patients of CAM-trained GPs live longer and cost less

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Research by Dutch scientists suggests that patients of GPs with a CAM training live longer and cost health providers less.

A study carried out by Peter Kooreman and Erik W. Baars reviewed data from a Dutch insurance company giving information on healthcare costs, dates of birth and death of 150,000 insured individuals. In the study, data from 1,913 conventional GPs were compared with data from 79 GPs with additional CAM training, including acupuncture, homeopathy and anthroposophic medicine.

The researchers found that patients of the GPs with CAM training had 0-30% lower healthcare and mortality rates during the period 2006-2009.

Since the researchers took into account possible confounders – including ‘neighbourhood effects’ – they say the lower costs and longer lives are unlikely to be related to differences in socioeconomic status. Instead, they speculate that the “less overtreatment and more focus on preventative health promotion” could be responsible.

Commenting on the findings, Roger Barsby, managing director of Weleda, said: “The Kooreman/Baars research reinforces a number of other studies conducted in recent years, all of which indicate that CAM treatments help patients live longer, healthier lives, costing the country less and tying up fewer medical resources. In times when there is much negative press for complementary and alternative medicine it is a great encouragement to CAM practitioners, retailers and patients to know that research has shown them to be right.

• The Kooreman/Baars study was first published in May 2011 in the European Journal of Health Economics but has now become available at the open source website SpringerOpen.com.

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