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Poll on IHPC Interest in Federal Office of Integrated Health Care: 63% Support, Negatives Intriguing PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Poll on IHPC Interest in a Federal Office of Integrated Health Care: 63% Support, Negatives Intriguing

Summary: Roughly 64% of Integrator readers who participated in the poll (N=151) believe that creating a federal office for integrated health care is critical for improving health care in the United States." Nearly a quarter expressed strong disagreement. Interestingly, a similar Integrator survey which focused on whether such a good office was "critical for the future of CAM/IM" found only a small fraction who expressed disagreement. Leaders of the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium are exploring ways to advance this federal agenda. Send comments on your view (pro or con) to

ImageAny pollster will tell you that a good deal of the outcome is in the framing of one's question. This appears to be evident in two recent, differently-framed Integrator polls on the policy question of the importance of a new federal office.

Poll #1: Office of "complementary/integrative med" and role for "CAM-IM's future"

The first poll asked for your level of agreement on this question: Creating a federal office on complementary/integrative medicine is critical for CAM-IM's future. Responses are in Table 1.

Table #1


   

 Number

 Percentage
 
   
Strongly agree
 26  55.3%    
Agree somewhat
 13 27.7%     
Agreement
39
83.0%

   
Disagree somewhat
 2 4.3%     
Strongly disagree
 4 8.5%     
Disagreement
6
12.8%
   
Not sure
 2 4.3%     
         
The poll ran from August 19-September 22, 2006. The poll was noted in Issue #10 of the Integrator. Few readers were drawn to participate. Negatives were low. Nearly 17 of 20 agreed.

However, shortly after the poll was posted on the site, Sheila Quinn, chair of the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) and Janet Kahn, PhD, IHPC executive director, expressed their wish that the language of the poll be reframed to better reflect IHPC's core thinking on the issue. Promoting the establishment of a federal office on integrated health care, as recommended by both the White House Commission on CAM Policy, and the National Policy Dialogue to Advance Integrated Care, is a core agenda for IHPC. They provided the Integrator with the language for the follow-up poll.




Poll #2: Office of "integrated health care" and role in "health care in the United States"


The second poll asked for your level of agreement with this:
Creating a federal office for integrated health care is critical for improving health care in the US.

Table #2


 

 Number

 Percentage
 
 
Strongly agree
77  50.3%  
Agree somewhat
20
13.1%
 
Agreement
97
63.4%

 
Disagree somewhat
16
10.5%
 
Strongly disagree
37
24.2%
 
Disagreement
53
34.6%

 
Not sure
3
2%
 
       
This statement has two significant changes. Instead of focusing on "complementary-integrative medicine," the language focuses on "integrated health care." Sheila Quinn explains her intention: "'Integrated health care includes everybody. We are thinking big here, not just about complementary or integrative medicine."

She notes another significant change. The focus of the impact is not on "CAM-IM's future" but rather "improving health care in the US." Again, the framing is meant to take the intent away from the specific benefits to the combined CAM-IM guild in favor of a larger focus on the importance of such an initiative to "health care in the US."


The poll ran from September 24, through October 6, 2006. The increased participation appears to have been a function of a Integrator special e-mailing of the poll to subscribers, which asked readers to participate. 153 readers participated.


Discussion - A Note on an Office of Wellness, and IHPC's Next Steps

Image
Sheila Quinn, IHPC board chair
Clearly, healthy majorities favor the federal office, of either type or intent. Quinn believes the strong agreement by roughly 50% is particularly important given the strength of the language used: "When I considered using the word 'critical' to people's health, I knew we were asking something different than if we had said 'helpful' or even 'very important.' That half think this is critical affirms the IHPC agenda."

Kahn, taking a different view on the role of the word "critical" in the poll, notes about those who disagree that, potentially, "the disagreement may only be over whether it is 'critical' and not whether it would be a good idea to have a federal office of integrated health care."

When asked about the suggestion of Kathi Kemper, MD (see Your Comments article) that what we needed was a "Federal Office of Wellness," Quinn explained her view that "integrated health care" may be a strategically valuable term: "It's a wonderful point - because we do want a wellness focus from our system - but the term triggers the pragmatist in me. We need to communicate effectively with the segment of our community that dominates and controls medicine. If we make our alliances only outside, we minimize our chances within the system. If we use 'wellness' as our primary calling card, there are a lot of people in medicine who don't identify with that term as part of their mission in health care. 'Integrated health care' includes all of it."


Quinn notes that the IHPC's Federal Policy Task Force is currently researching and developing its strategy for fostering such an office, through dialogue with members of the community, and on Capitol Hill. The Integrator will cover this evolving story.

Comment: 
I am intrigued to know why nearly 25% of you who participated feel so strongly opposed to this. Is it a dispute with how "critical" this initiative is? What other reasons stimulate your strong aversion? Similarly, for you who are in favor, why do so many of you feel so strongly that such an office will be critical to advancing health care in the United States. Responses on both sides may assist IHPC thinking.

Please send your comments
, pro or con, to for posting in a future Your Comments article.

Disclosure note: I serve on the steering committee of the IHPC.
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