Who We Are


In the context of a public health imperative to determine the health benefits, potential risks and value of expenditures related to integrative and complementary health practices, we must advance the science and research with empirical investigation, inquiry, and dedication toward developing a base of evidence and determining clinical efficacy.

In the spirit of addressing these needs, the Integrative, Complementary and Traditional Health Practices Section aims to meet the following objectives:

  1. To provide opportunities for multidisciplinary interaction among members within the professions of medicine, public health, health services and public policy to link, collaborate, create synergy and provide a broad vision for promoting community and global health and wellness.
  2. To encourage evidence-based research and discussion to guide practitioners, patients and policymakers regarding the use of integrative, complementary and traditional health practices.
  3. To promote the training and development of the next generation of researchers, scientists and practitioners.
  4. To increase visibility of integrative health practices within the realm of public health and health services.
  5. To link with global partners to create a dynamic public health network.

Roots of the Integrative, Complementary and Traditional Health Practices Section

The Alternative and Complementary Health Practice Special Primary Interest Group celebrated its 20th anniversary as an APHA member group in 2014. That same year, the group made two significant steps forward: We changed our name to Integrative, Complementary and Traditional Health Practices and successfully applied for Section status within APHA.

Our group has grown from a group of 20 committed individuals to over 400 members representing a full spectrum of professional backgrounds as well as over a dozen countries. We are proud to have sister groups in South Africa and Australia. As an early member and former SPIG co-chair wrote in an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health in 2002: “…the public health of our nation is better served by such scientific attention rather than by these health practices being ignored or marginalized as scientifically uninteresting or trivial.”

Our Section has increased our outreach and welcome to public health practitioners in rural communities, medically under-served communities and those living outside the U.S. We also actively recruit members from throughout the age spectrum. Today, our members hail from countries around the world, including Germany, the United Kingdom, India, Canada, Lebanon and Nigeria. Members represent a full range of disciplines, including university faculty, researchers, epidemiologists, master of public health and doctoral students, registered nurses, public health program managers and directors, and social workers, in addition to myriad of practitioners of complementary health practices.

Our Section recognizes member achievements and contributions with awards presented during APHA’s Annual Meeting and Exposition. Members have been recognized for the following accomplishments: contributions to public health, student-led research and lifetime achievements in public health.

Donna Feeley Memorial Panel

Donna Feeley, one of the Section’s original members, had over 20 years of experience in bodywork and was a nationally certified massage therapist specializing in shiatsu and energy work. As an associate faculty member at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Feeley developed the school's first accredited complementary medicine course. She served as chair of the Board of Directors for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and was an active member of the Board of Directors of the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care.

Feeley passed away in 2011, but her vision of providing access to wellness care and education to all members of society continues to inspire our Section to think globally and act locally. In her honor, we began the tradition of inviting special speakers to each year’s APHA Annual Meeting. Among our many invited speakers have been Janet Kahn, President Obama’s appointee to Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health, and Rain Henderson, CEO of the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Initiative.