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Study Finds Naturopathic Care for Chronic Low-Back Pain to be Efficacious, Cost-Effective

Workplace study shows naturopathic care resulted in an improvement in

health-related quality of life, lower costs, and reduced absenteeism

BOULDER, Colo., March 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Naturopathic care is more cost-effective than a standardized physiotherapy-education regimen in the treatment of chronic low-back pain, according to a study in the March/April 2008 issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical journal published by InnoVision Health Media.

Workers aged 18 to 65 years with clinical diagnoses of low-back pain of at least 6 weeks' duration were recruited from a warehouse site of a large corporation. Seventy-five participants were randomly assigned to receive 3 months of 30-minute, semi-weekly, onsite naturopathic-care visits (acupuncture, exercise and dietary advice, relaxation training, and a back-care educational booklet) or 3 months of 30-minute, bi-weekly, onsite control-group visits (standardized physiotherapy advice and the back-care educational booklet). All participants were told to continue their pain medications as needed. Participants' use of other adjunctive care (chiropractic care, massage, physiotherapy) was monitored.

Naturopathic-care participants had reduced absenteeism and tended to reduce adjunctive care -- resulting in savings in out-of-pocket costs of $1096 per participant. Conversely, control-group participants had slightly increased absenteeism and tended to increase adjunctive care. The naturopathic-care group experienced a statistically significant (P=.006) increase in quality-of-life years over the study period; the control group did not. Furthermore, naturopathic care resulted in a net reduction of 6.7 absenteeism days. Under the healthcare coverage limits set by the employer and assuming the employer paid the full cost of naturopathic care, the intervention cost $154 per absentee day avoided, compared to employer costs of lost productivity of $172 per day, and had a return on investment of 7.9%.

Naturopathic care for chronic low-back pain resulted in lower societal costs and better health-related quality of life than the control treatment over the 3-month treatment period and 3-month follow-up and was cost-effective to the employer and participants.

The full article is available at

For more information and to schedule interviews with the study authors, contact Heather Hogan, 303.565.2020,

About Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine

Now in its 14th year, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine is the definitive peer-reviewed journal in the field of integrative, cross-cultural and alternative medicine. The journal regularly features original research, original articles, case reports, clinical applicators, cross-disciplinary explorations, interviews, and more. Visit

SOURCE Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine
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