The Integrator Blog
Share |
Contact Me, Experience, Mission, Sabbatical in Central America, plus
Editorial Advisory Board
Michael Levin
Taylor Walsh
background resources in PDF
Insurance, Integrative Clinics, Industry Summit Reports, News Files '99-'04
some organization links
Professions, Academia, Research, Policy
some CAM/IM publication links
Electronic, Peer-Reviewed, Blogs, More
Bradly Jacobs, MD, MPH, Revolution Health Blog
supported conference
Institute for Health & Productivity Management - Integrative/Complementary Healthcare
Integrator Poll Results: 72% View NCCAM as Critical to Integrated Care's Advance PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Integrator Poll Results: 72% View NCCAM as Critical to Integrated Care's Advance

Summary:  A month long Integrator website survey found that 72% view the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine as "critical in the advancement of integrated health care." Roughly 4 in 10 marked "strongly agree." The outcomes are compared in this article to a prior Integrator policy-related poll which explore the criticality to US health care of creating a federal office for integrated health care. Participation was higher and outcomes more polarized in the earlier of these two finger-in-the-wind polls.

Image Action at the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has had high visibility in the Integrator recently. Founder director Stephen Straus, MD, viewed by some as its protector against more conservative National Institutes of Health forces, has stepped down (see article here). Some influential scientific publications as well as NBC news have chosen to devote editorial space to questioning the ongoing value of NCCAM (see article here).

readers have contributed insightful perspectives of their own (see article here and the recent comment here from Michael Levin). In this dynamic context, we posted a new Integrator poll on October 20, 2006 to capture some sense of the issues at stake.

  • What would the loss be if NCCAM's conservative detractors had their way?
  • How deep is the antagonism toward NCCAM among those who believe that the agency's agenda has been too reductive and betrayed the w/holism in the integrated care field?

We could not answer questions at this level of focus. We found these composite responses, to a general statement, from the Integrator's motley mix of visitors.


Note Agreement or Disagreement with this Statement:

"The NIH NCCAM plays a critical role
in the advancement of integrated health care"

    Number    Percent 
 Strongly agree
  46     43.8% 
Agree somewhat 
  30      28.6% 
Disagree somewhat     
  9     9.8% 
Strongly Disagree   6    5.7%
 Not sure   14    13.3%

Number of Votes: 105
Dates: 20 October 2006 - 21 November 2006


Findings and Discussion

We chose to use the word "critical" intentionally. Nearly three-fourths of participants (72.4%) affirmed this critical importance, with 43.8% in the "strongly agree" category. Certainly in this set are some who views are shaped by a direct self-interest: researchers and academics who either are recipients of NCCAM funds, or wish they were. Here NCCAM's critical role in their own futures may well be projected on the future of the field. Your author is indirectly biased by association.

For these and some others, the frequently expressed importance of "evidence" in fostering integration may be the reason for strong agreement. There is little money from anywhere outside the NIH funding CAM research. And though other federal agencies are funding some research related to natural and complementary therapies, the logic for pushing NCCAM may be that no other institute or agency is likely to take up the bigger issues and formulate the questions most important to us.

"Poll Finds NCCAM is Critical to Integrated Care's Future"

--  or  --

"Nearly 60% Do Not Strongly Agree that NCCAM is Critical"

Interestingly - to spin this from an oppositional perspective- nearly 30 percent of participants don't believe NCCAM is important or are not sure. Nearly three out of five (56.2%) do not strongly agree that NIH NCCAM is critically important.

ImageCompared to the Poll on a Federal Office of Integrated Health Care

A relatively low participation rate adds to a view that many are ambivalent or at least without strong opinion about NCCAM. Only 105 participated. This compares unfavorably with the 153 participants in a survey which ran less than half the time (13 days vs 31 days). The earlier survey (September 24-October 6, 2006) also ran at a time when Integrator visits were at roughly 60% of their average over the month-long period of the NCCAM poll, further lowering relative participation levels fin the NCCAM poll. Both polls were the subject of focused Integrator mailings.

The earlier poll asked participants to register their agreement with a statement which also queried readers about a federal policy issue:
Creating a federal office for integrated health care is critical for improving health care in the US.


Comparison of Outcomes of Integrator Polls 
on a Federal Office and NCCAM

NCCAM: "The NIH NCCAM plays a critical role
in the advancement of integrated health care"

FEDERAL OFFICE: "Creating a federal office for integrated health
care is critical for improving health care in the US"


  Percent    Percent 
Strongly agree
Agree somewhat 
 28.6%   13.1%
Disagree somewhat     
  9.8%   10.5%
Strongly disagree  5.7%   24.2%
Not sure  13.3%   2%



Duration of poll
31 days

13 days


The poll exploring the criticality a federal office may have to the future of integrated health care drew a more polarized and opinionated response. "Strongly agree" and "Strongly disagree" were both higher in views about a federal office, totaling 75% of participants, versus 50% at these extremes in the NCCAM poll. (For an article on the earlier poll, click here.) NCCAM, though generating significantly less participation, was viewed as more critical over-all. If those who are "not sure" are convinced that NCCAM is important, the positives could reach to over 85%.

Expression of Agreement, and Action

With the US Senate coming under control of the Democrats in 2007, NIH NCCAM sponsor Tom Harkin (D-IA) is expected to once again chair the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies of the US Senate Committee on Appropriations  with jurisdiction over NIH funding. One might expect NCCAM to be protected from its detractors by the man who, in an act of classic pork-barrel politics, got the original exploration of "unconventional medicine" going in 1991 through a little slight of hand which appropriated $2-million for some work. Harkin continued as NIH-level examination of CAM's principal champion and sponsor as the exploration became an Office of Alternative Medicine and the Office a Center. To this extent that "great man theory" applies to this corner of political history, Harkin is the fellow who wears the mantle.

The need for defensive, protective action to save NCCAM does not, then, appear to be as likely with Harkin re-empowered. The question remains whether those who "strongly agree" with NCCAM's criticality will one day become part of a formal supportive network to insure that NCCAM does not just hang in there, but grows and flourishes with a destiny which embraces the whole practices which shape the movement that Harkin advanced.

I am told that other institututes and federal research entities have benefited from the lobbying of such groups. Those close to NCCAM will know that Harkin, generous spirited as he has been in what he has chosen to advocate through the many years of his service (1), does not mind having his electoral back scratched by those who value NCCAM. Such back-scratching is, as is said, a cost of doing business.

(1) I had an unusual insight into Harkin in the early 1980s when I was involved with some Washington State and national people promoting human rights in Korea after a particularly repressive governmental action in Kwangju led by a man, Kim Dae Jung, whose leading national backer was Harkin. Harkin would later be at Kim's side when he, after decades in-and-out of political prison, became president of South Korea and later a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Thanks to Integrator advisor Christine Goertz Choate, PhD, DC, and Candace Campbell for their assistance in formulating the poll question. Neither of them are responsible for me writing at such great length on outcomes of two unscientifically delivered instrument.

Send your comments to
for inclusion in a future Your Comments article.

< Prev   Next >
Integrative Practitioner
The Westreich Foundation
voluntary contributions
Support the work!
All Integrator Round-ups
Integrator Top 10 Lists 2006-2015
Issues #140-#142 Oct-Dec 2015
Issues #137-#139 July-Sept 2015
Issues #134-#136 April-June 2015
Issues #131-#133 Jan-March 2015
Issues #127-#130 Sept-Dec 2014
Issues #123-#126 May-Aug 2014
Issues#119-#122 Jan-April 2014
Issues #116-#118 - Oct-Dec 2013
Issues #113-#115 July-Sept 2013
Issues #110-#112 April-June 2013
Issues #108-#109 Jan-March 2013
Issue #105-#107 Oct-Dec 2012
Issues #102-#104 - July-Sept 2012
Issues #99-#101 - April-June 2012
Issues #96-#98-Jan-March 2012
Issues #94-#95 Nov-Dec 2011
Issues #92-#93 Sept-Oct 2011
Issues #90 and #91 - July-Aug 2011
Issues #88 and #89 - May-June 2011
Issues #86 and #87 - March-April 2011
Issues #84 and #85 - Jan-Feb 2011
Issues #82 and #83 - Nov-Dec 2010
Issues #80 & #81 - Sept Oct 2010
Issues #78 & #79 - July August 2010
Issues #76 & #77 - May June 2010
Issues #74 & #75 - March-April 2010
Issues #73 & #73 - Jan-Feb 2010
Issues #69, #70 & #71 - Nov-Dec 2009
Issues #67 and #68 - Sept-Oct 2009
Issues #65 and #66 - July-August 2009
Issues #63-#64 - May-June 2009
Issues #60-#62 - March-April 2009
Issues #57-#59 - Jan-Feb 2009
Issues #55-#56 - Nov-Dec 2008
Issues #51-#54 - Sept-Oct 2008
Issues #47-#50 - July-August 2008
Issues #46 & -#47 - May-June 2008
Issues #43-#45 Mar-April 2008
Issues #41 & #42 - Feb 2008
Issues #39 & #40 - Dec-Jan '08
Issues #37 & #38 - Nov 2007
Issues #35 & #36 - Oct 2007
Issues #33 & #34 - Sept 2007
Issues #30-#32 - July-Aug 2007
Issues #28 & #29 - June 2007
Issues #26 and #27 - May 2007
Issue #25 - April 2007
Issues # 23 & #24 - March 2007
Issues #21 and #22 - Feb 2007
Issues #19 and & 20 - Jan 2007
Issues #17 and #18 - Dec 2006
Issues #15 and #16 - Nov 2006
Issues #13 and #14 - Oct 2006
Issues #11 and #12- Sept 2006
Issues #9 and #10 - Aug 2006
Issues #7 and #8 - July 2006
Issues #5 and #6 - June 2006
Issues #3 and #4 - May 2006
Issues #1 and #2 - April 2006
All Articles by Subject: 2006
All Articles by Subject: Jan-June 2007
IAYT-Sponsored Series on the Future of Yoga Therapy