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Alternative and Complementary Health Practices
Section Newsletter
Winter 2009

Letter from the Co-Chairs


Dear ACHP Friends,

Greetings and Happy Chinese New Year of the Ox! The Ox, who is said to attain his/her goal through patience and perseverance, offers us a model for persisting in our work and actualizing our visions.

Our Winter Newsletter contains some very good news about the APHA Annual Meeting to be held in November 2009. Josephine Briggs, the director of NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, has agreed to speak in a plenary-type session for our SPIG. Meeting her and hearing her thoughts on developing integrative care in the United States should be of great interest, not only to our fellow SPIG members, but to our many APHA friends and colleagues as well.

A report on our first SPIG teleconference has also been included. Because our annual Business Meeting in San Diego didn’t have enough time to accommodate attendees’ agenda items, we decided to schedule quarterly teleconference “meetings” that are open to all SPIG members. A major discussion item of the first phone meeting was the process of becoming a Section. You can read more about this in the update provided in this issue.

Thanks to all the contributors for this issue. For those of you who are inspired to contribute an article, news update, or announcement, the deadline for our Spring/Summer newsletter will be May 25. Submissions can be forwarded to Beth Sommers at




Beth Sommers

Rick Harvey

ACHP SPIG Teleconference


ACHP SPIG Teleconference

ACHP members engaged in our SPIG’s first teleconference held on Feb. 4, 2009. Eight members from around the country were able to share news, announcements and continue discussing some of the issues raised at our Business Meeting last October in San Diego.

The two main topics discussed were the process for becoming a Section within APHA and planning for our exhibition hall information booth at the APHA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

Adam Burke (Chair Emeritus) and Rick Harvey (current Co-Chair) eloquently described several reasons for seeking Section status. Comparing our current status as a SPIG to a “fingerprint”, they articulated that our group’s vision is to develop a “footprint” within APHA and the larger public health community. Reasons for pursuing Section status include:

    • Cultivating more prominence within APHA.

    • Increased visibility and support within the organization.

    • Having a greater stake in the organization.

    • Promoting the status of complementary/alternative/integrative care

      in the public health community.

    • Innovation in U.S. health care as the new administration advances.

    • Career development and networking for individual members.

We’re planning to circulate the Application Form for Section status so that all members can have an idea of the breadth and complexity of the process; it isn’t merely a formality that can be addressed in a short period of time. If we begin the process now, it will be reasonable to consider submitting the application in a year.

To apply for Section status, the following considerations need to be addressed:

      • A SPIG needs to have Chair (and/or co-chairs), secretary, Governing Council member (1-2), Section Council members (1-6), Membership Committee and representative, Newsletter editor(s), Program planner(s).

        Other criteria:

      • Elections/Nominations: has SPIG endeavored to have competitive/ diverse slate of officers; has SPIG appointed any members for APHA leadership positions (e.g. Action Board, Science Board, Education Board); please specify.

      • Communications between Chair/Co-chairs and membership.

      • Number of newsletters produced in past 3 years (up to 3 newsletters/year are possible).

      • At most recent APHA Annual Meeting, #: scientific sections, business meetings, social events, poster sessions.

      • Policy process – does SPIG have unaffiliated Governing Councilor who represents SPIG interests? Over past three years, how often and in what ways has SPIG contributed to APHA’s policy process (e.g. submit resolutions, comment on proposed policies).

      • Student involvement – how is this promoted? Does SPIG have student members on committees?

      • Membership – over the past three years:

          • What has SPIG done to recruit new members?

          • What has SPIG done to retain members?

          • In what ways has SPIG worked to diversify membership

          • # e-mails sent to entire SPIG membership in past calendar year?

          • Minimum of 250 individuals needed for Section status.

          • What are plans to maintain/increase membership?

SPIG members who would like to receive a copy of the application criteria can notify Beth at and the information will be sent to you.

Between now and our next teleconference, to be scheduled in May 2009, members can think about ways in which they would like to increase their involvement. A major topic for that tele-meeting will be discussing how to proceed (e.g. forming task forces on membership, etc.).

Beth Rosenthal volunteered to coordinate planning for our SPIG’s information booth at the upcoming APHA Annual Meeting in November. Beth Sommers will help her. At our booth, we’d like to feature materials (brochures, newspapers, books, and other information) that will highlight the work of our members as well as other ACHP projects of interest to our community. We’d also like to have a banner to promote our group. It’s not too early to begin thinking about materials that you and your constituents would like to make available for APHA meeting attendees in November. We expect that there will be a mailing address for conference materials to which these can be sent. Our next newsletter will contain updated information about this.

We would like to plan to have quarterly SPIG teleconference meetings, and discussed planning for the next one in May 2009. We have found a free teleconference site that allows for low or no cost calling, depending on an individual’s phone contract. If you would like to be informed about planning for the next teleconference, please let Beth Sommers know (

Speaker for APHA Meeting Announced


    Speaker for APHA Meeting Announced

Josephine Briggs, MD, Director, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, will be speaking at the  APHA Annual Meeting on Monday, Nov. 9, 2:30-4:00 p.m. (location TBA) The title for her talk will be "Complementary and Alternative Health Practices: Their Role in the Evolution of American Health Care."

On Jan. 24, 2008, Dr. Briggs was named director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. An accomplished researcher and physician, Dr. Briggs brings a focus on translational research to the study of complementary and alternative medicine to help build a fuller understanding of the usefulness and safety of CAM practices.

Dr. Briggs' research interests include the renin-angiotensin system, diabetic nephropathy, circadian regulation of blood pressure, and the effect of antioxidants in kidney disease. She has published more than 130 research articles and has served on the editorial boards of several journals including the Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, Seminars in Nephrology, and Hypertension and was deputy editor for the Journal of Clinical Investigation. She is an elected member of the American Association of Physicians and the American Society of Clinical Investigation and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a recipient of many awards and prizes, including the Volhard Prize of the German Nephrological Society, the Alexander von Humboldt Scientific Exchange Award, and NIH Directors Awards for her role in the development of the Trans-NIH Type I Diabetes Strategic Plan and her leadership of the Trans-NIH Zebrafish Committee.

From 'American Acupuncturist', volume 44, summer 2008, 11.
Excerpted with permission.

Announcements From APHA


Announcements from APHA

NINETEENTH Annual APHA Public Health Materials Contest

The APHA Public Health Education and Health Promotion Section is soliciting your best health education, promotion and communication materials for the 19th annual competition. The contest provides a forum to showcase public health materials during the APHA Annual Meeting and recognizes professionals for their hard work.

All winners will be selected by panels of expert judges prior to the 137th APHA Meeting in Philadelphia. A session will be held at the Annual Meeting to recognize winners, during which one representative from the top materials selected in each category will give a presentation about their material.

Entries will be accepted in three categories; printed materials, electronic materials and other materials. Entries for the contest are due by March 27, 2009.

Please contact Kira McGroarty at for additional contest information.



Dear APHA Section, SPIG, Caucus and Affiliate Leaders:

This year promises to be an exciting one for public health in Washington, D.C., and around the nation. As you know, the success of APHA’s advocacy efforts depends, in part, on having current, relevant and science-based policies on the books. One effort to measure the quality of APHA’s existing policy database is the association’s annual policy review and archiving process.

The total list consists of 48 policies that were reviewed in 2008 in four categories (i.e. violence/firearms/handguns; gerontology/healthy aging; water quality/safety/uses; and genomics). In 2008, APHA’s Governing Council archived 13 policies at its meeting in San Diego.

The Joint Policy Committee is bringing this comprehensive list of reviewed policies to your attention to underscore the continuing need to update APHA policy. Many of the policies reviewed last year, but not yet archived, were found to be outdated and not reflective of contemporary science. These still need to be updated or combined with other policies. The Joint Policy Committee did not recommend these for archiving until improved policies are developed and adopted by APHA.

We urge your Sections, SPIGs, Caucuses and Affiliates to review the list and begin working on developing more updated/sound position papers or resolutions, which can replace the outdated policies currently in our database. Details on writing an APHA policy and the policy process time line are available on APHA’s Web site at

The “best” policies that are the most useful in advocacy efforts and are likely to be adopted by the Governing Council are those that: 1) are well documented and based on sound science; 2) are not time bound to any specific legislation; 3) direct APHA to take only external actions (i.e. do not address internal APHA business); 4) and are supported by multiple association units (Sections, Affiliates, SPIGs, Caucuses, etc.). The deadline for new policies is Feb. 17, 2009.

Proposed topics for 2009 archiving review were recently sent to you via APHA’s Member News e-mail and are open for public comment. You can view the list of proposed topics at

We urge you to assign individuals in your components to actively participate in this process by providing comments on the proposed topics as well as the final list of policies identified for review. You will be receiving additional instructions about this effort from an Action Board representative in the near future.

Should you have any questions about archiving or the new policy development process, please do not hesitate to contact us or APHA Public Affairs Coordinator Patricia Warin at


Ella Moton-Green, Chair, 2009 Action Board; John Santelli, MD, MPH, Chair, 2009 Science Board; Debbie L. Hettler, OD MPH FAAO, Chair, 2009 Education Board

Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research Update


    Announcements from Friends and Colleagues of ACHP

Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research Update

Three reports from the HCUP Statistical Brief series have been recently added to the HCUP User Support Web site: Hospital Stays Related to Mental Health, 2006 (HCUP Statistical Brief #62); Hospital Stays for Lung Cancer, 2006 (HCUP Statistical Brief #63); and Hospitalizations Related to Pressure Ulcers among Adults 18 Years and Older, 2006 (Statistical Brief #64).

Please contact the Healthcare Cost and Utilization group at for further information.


One in Five Hospital Admissions Are for Patients with Mental Disorders

About 1.4 million hospitalizations in 2006 involved patients who were admitted for a mental illness, while another 7.1 million patients had a mental disorder in addition to the physical condition for which they were admitted, according to the latest report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The 8.5 million hospitalizations involving patients with mental illness represented about 22 percent of the overall 39.5 million hospitalizations in 2006. AHRQ's analysis found that of the nearly 1.4 million hospitalizations specifically for treatment of a mental disorder in 2006:

  • Nearly 730,000 involved depression or other mood disorders, such as bipolar disease.

  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders caused another 381,000.

  • Delirium—which can cause agitation or inability to focus attention—dementia, amnesia and other cognitive problems accounted for 131,000.

  • Anxiety disorders and adjustment disorders—stress-related illnesses that can affect feeling, thoughts and behaviors—accounted for another 76,000.

  • The remaining roughly 34,000 hospitalizations involved attention-deficit disorder, disruptive behavior, impulse control, personality disorders or mental disorders usually diagnosed in infancy or later childhood.

These findings are based on data from Hospital Stays Related to Mental Health, 2006 (HCUP Statistical Brief #62). The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.


Lung Cancer Rates Dropping but Hospitalization Rates Remain Constant

Hospital admissions for lung cancer remained relatively stable at roughly 150,000 a year between 1995 and 2006 despite a steady decline in the number of Americans diagnosed with the disease, according to the latest report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Admissions have remained constant, in part, because lung cancer patients are surviving longer and undergoing more hospital-related treatments such as chemotherapy and tumor-removal surgery, according to AHRQ experts. Smoking is considered a main cause of lung cancer — the most deadly type of cancer — but the disease can also result from exposure to hazardous substances such as asbestos, radon, pollution or second-hand smoke, as well as genetic predisposition to the disease.

AHRQ's analysis also found that:

  • The average hospital cost for a lung cancer patient in 2006 was $14,200 (about $1,900 a day). The total cost for all patients was about $2.1 billion.

  • The death rate of hospitalized lung cancer patients was 13 percent—5 times higher than the average overall death rate (2.6 percent) for hospitalized patients.

  • Only 2.4 percent of hospitalized lung cancer patients in 2006 were younger than 44. About 63 percent were 65 or older.

  • Hospitalizations for lung cancer were far more common in the South (89 admissions per 100,000 persons) than in the Northeast (25 admissions per 100,000 persons).

These findings are based on data from Hospital Stays for Lung Cancer, 2006 (HCUP Statistical Brief # 63). The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.


Pressure Ulcers Increasing Among Hospital Patients

Hospitalizations involving patients with pressure ulcers — either developed before or after admission — increased by nearly 80 percent between 1993 and 2006, according to the latest report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Pressure ulcers, also called bed sores, typically occur among patients who can't move or have lost sensation. Prolonged periods of immobility put pressure on the skin, soft tissue, muscle, or bone, causing ulcers to develop. Older patients, stroke victims, people who are paralyzed, or those with diabetes or dementia are particularly vulnerable. Pressure ulcers may indicate poor quality of care at home, in a nursing home, or hospital. Severe cases can lead to life-threatening infections.

AHRQ's analysis found that of the 503,300 pressure ulcer-related hospitalizations in 2006:

  • Pressure ulcers were the primary diagnosis in about 45,500 hospital admissions — up from 35,800 in 1993.

  • Pressure ulcers were a secondary diagnosis in 457,800 hospital admissions — up from 245,600 in 1993. These patients, admitted primarily for pneumonia, infections, or other medical problems, developed pressure ulcers either before or after admission.

  • Among hospitalizations involving pressure ulcers as a primary diagnosis, about 1 in 25 admissions ended in death. The death rate was higher when pressure ulcers were a secondary diagnosis — about 1 in 8.

  • Pressure ulcer-related hospitalizations are longer and more expensive than many other hospitalizations. While the overall average hospital stay is 5 days and costs about $10,000, the average pressure ulcer-related stay extends to between 13 and 14 days and costs between $16,755 and $20,430, depending on medical circumstances.

These findings are based on data from Hospitalizations Related to Pressure Ulcers Among Adults 18 Years and Older, 2006. The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

CAM Funding Opportunity


    CAM Funding Opportunity

RAND and Samueli Institute Create Endowment to Study Alternative, Complementary, and Integrative Medicine

by Lara Hilton, Research Programmer Analyst, RAND Corporation

The Samueli Institute Fund for Policy Studies in Integrative Medicine at RAND will be establised with a gift from the Samueli Insitute and additional funding from RAND. The Samulei Institute is a nonprofit scientific research organization based in Alexandria, Va. RAND Corporation is a private, nonprofit, policy analysis think tank, with its corporate headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif.

Senior health policy analyst Dr. Ian Coulter, who has been named chair of the endowment, said that alternative and complementary medicine can include approaches such as acupuncture, chiropractic, spirituality, naturopathy, herbal medicine, yoga, and meditation, as well as other modalities. Integrative medicine refers to the combination of "alternative" approaches with conventional biomedicine.

"Millions of Americans are using some form of complementary or alternative medicine in addtion to biomedical treatment, but very little research has been done to establish which treatments are most effective, for what conditions, and under which circumstances," Coulter said. "In some cases, a particular kind of medicine may work best as an adjunct therapy, such as using acuptuncture to combat nausea from chemotherapy. In other cases, the alternative therapy may be the best treatment by itself."

The research fund will be managed by RAND Health and will support the study of this integrated approach, as well as methods for investigating various treatments.

Healing Center Discussion Event & CAM Research Conference


    Healing Center Discussion Event

Healing Centers United  is planning a networking and information sharing event about starting and running holistic, integrative health centers. The event will take place at the end of March 2009 in San Diego. This is an opportunity for healing center staff, practitioners, students of CAM and medical professions and potential health center consumers to share information about how healing centers function and how to work with them.

Healing Centers United, a nonprofit organization, is a clearinghouse of information about holistic healing centers and a networking service for patients, healing centers and organizations supporting holistic healing.

For more information visit

or e-mail Beth Rosenthal



    Upcoming CAM Research Conference

North American Research Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine

May 12-15, 2009 Minneapolis.

For more information:

Political Interest/Global Health Connections Committee


Political Interest: Colleagues’ messages about the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict


Dear Colleagues: 

As a public health research physician and professor who has and hopes to continue to work with Israelis and Palestinians (in the West Bank and Gaza), with respect to the present statement of this very delicate situation, I would prefer a more balanced listing of casualties and problems. Each side has problems, and has done things which I think are not at all helpful to the situation. The shelling of Israel, which set off the current situation, does not seem to be covered in what I would regard as balanced reportage. The use of civilians as covers in Gaza by Hamas is also not presented as a major problem, which it is. A softer and more balanced statement calling for permanent and enforceable peace with no threat of harm to the people of either side would strongly be preferred.

Sincerely yours,


Arnold Schecter, MD, MPH
Professor of Environmental Sciences
Univ. of Texas School of Public Health, Dallas
Mail Address: 5323 Harry Hines Blvd, Room V8.112
Physical Address: 6011 Harry Hines, V8.112
Dallas, Texas 75390-9128
Phone: (214) 648-1096
FAX: (214) 648-1081



Global Health Connections Committee

Conference Calls for interested APHA colleagues of the Global Health Connections Committee are scheduled for:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 Noon (Eastern time)

Wednesday, May 13, 2008 Noon (Eastern time)

Instructions for Connecting to the Conference Call

Call               1-719-867-7624       ; Conference Code 373785

Please note this is not a toll free number.

Gopal Sankaran

Chair, Global Health Connections Committee; Co-chairs: Padmini Murthy and Hala Azzam

International Health Section