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Boston Medical Center receives 2 grants for integrative medicine research

(Boston) - Two Boston Medical Center (BMC) researchers have each been awarded grants from the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to study the effectiveness of integrative medicine in underserved patients.

Paula Gardiner, MD, MPH, attending physician in the department of family medicine, has been awarded a 5-year K07 training grant to investigate the use of Herbs and non-vitamin Dietary Supplements (HDS) in underserved populations. Robert Saper, MD, MPH, director of integrative medicine in the department of family medicine, has been awarded a $2.75 million grant to compare the effectiveness of yoga to physical therapy for the treatment of chronic lower back pain (CLBP) in predominantly low income minorities from Boston community health centers.

While surveys report that one in five adults use HDS, little is known about the number of inpatients in urban hospitals who use them in addition to allopathic medicines. Similarly, little is known about the number or severity of potential HDS adverse events in hospital settings.

Gardiner's research focuses on the needs of underserved patients in hospital settings and applies health Information Technology systems to the study and teaching of complementary and alternative medicine. The K07 training grant will allow her to expand the knowledge base of HDS use among minority patients, design an HDS health IT system for patients and develop an HDS patient safety curriculum for clinicians.

CLBP affects 5-10 percent of US adults annually and disproportionately impacts those from minority and low income backgrounds. Physical therapy is a common, reimbursed non-pharmacologic treatment for CLBP.

Saper's findings from a preliminary study suggest that yoga is a feasible intervention for CLBP in minority populations and may be effective in reducing pain and pain medication use. The $2.75 million grant will allow him to compare yoga to physical therapy in relieving CLBP in order to determine whether yoga should become an accepted form of treatment. The study will involve 320 patients from BMC and six affiliated community health centers.


Contact: Nathan Bliss
Boston University Medical Center

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