In March of 2000 the White House issued Executive Order No. 13147 which initiated the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (“CAM”). The commission was designed to, for the first time, look into non-medical health care. The commission called all such care Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) even though most all the forms of health care included in this category were not alternatives and certainly not medicine in any form. Chiropractic was one of the CAM healthcare delivery systems included in the report. Chiropractic represents the largest of the professions that fit into the CAM category and the only profession in the group whose practitioners are doctors who are licensed in all 50 states.
In March of 2002 this Commission released its final report. The Executive Summary of the report, published on their web site at http://whccamp.hhs.gov/, contained 10 recommendations to be included into the final report. These ten speak to very important and fundamental issues in health care. They are listed below.
- A wholeness orientation in health care delivery. Health involves all aspects of life-mind, body, spirit, and environment-and high-quality health care must support care of the whole person.
- Evidence of safety and efficacy. The Commission is committed to promoting the use of science and appropriate scientific methods to help identify safe and effective CAM services and products and to generate evidence that will protect and promote the public health.
- The healing capacity of the person. People have a remarkable capacity for recovery and self-healing, and a major focus of health care is to support and promote this capacity.
- Respect for individuality. Each person is unique and has the right to health care that is appropriately responsive to him or her, respecting preferences and preserving dignity.
- The right to choose treatment. Each person has the right to choose freely among safe and effective care or approaches, as well as among qualified practitioners who are accountable for their claims and actions and responsive to the person’s needs.
- An emphasis on health promotion and self-care. Good health care emphasizes self-care and early intervention for maintaining and promoting health.
- Partnerships as essential to integrated health care. Good health care requires teamwork among patients, health care practitioners (conventional and CAM), and researchers committed to creating optimal healing environments and to respecting the diversity of all health care traditions.
- Education as a fundamental health care service. Education about prevention, healthy lifestyles, and the power of self-healing should be made an integral part of the curricula of all health care professionals and should be made available to the public of all ages.
- Dissemination of comprehensive and timely information. The quality of health care can be enhanced by promoting efforts that thoroughly and thoughtfully examine the evidence on which CAM systems, practices, and products are based and make this evidence widely, rapidly, and easily available.
- Integral public involvement. The input of informed consumers and other members of the public must be incorporated in setting priorities for health care and health care research and in reaching policy decisions, including those related to CAM, within the public and private sectors.
From a chiropractic standpoint, it is good to see these ten points being brought forth in such a public document. Many of these statements by the Commission regarding wholeness, healing, wellness, and the right of the individual to choose their form of health care have been part of chiropractic practices for decades.
The commission recognized the ever-growing role that non-medical care is having on the population in the United States. In concluding they made the following statement, “The Commission recommends that the President, Secretary of Health and Human Services, or Congress create an office to coordinate Federal CAM activities and to facilitate the integration of safe and effective practices and products into the nation’s health care system.”