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Integrative Family Medicine Program

Rationale and Overview:

National surveys indicate that 42-60% of adults in the US use complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies, that visits to CAM providers outnumber those to primary care physicians, and that more money is spent out-of-pocket on these services than on primary care.1,2 Americans appear to use and value a wide variety of health practices, both conventional and alternative, but often perceive their physician as unable to integrate these therapies within the context of their medical management. Local surveys among family physicians support this view and identify a lack of knowledge of complementary medicine as the primary reason for feeling uncomfortable discussing such matters with their patients. The integrative model of family medicine emphasizes the importance of healthy lifestyle choices and attention to wellness by both patients and practitioners. It advocates a more collaborative model of healthcare, where both the patient and the practitioner are informed about conventional and complementary therapy choices, the values of each individual are respected, and patients are invited to be active participants in healthcare decision making.

The Maine Medical Center Family Medicine Residency curriculum in Complementary and Integrative Medicine is designed to weave these ideas and experiences throughout residents' three-year program. Our goal is to develop physicians who will model a healthy lifestyle and be more collaborative and relationship-centered in their approach to medical care. Having evaluated the evidence, experienced the therapies, and spent time with alternative and integrative medicine practitioners, they will understand and be in a better position to evaluate and incorporate approaches to healing that are outside the conventional medical paradigm.

1. Eisenberg DM, Kessler RC, Foster C, Norlock FE, Calkins DR, Delbanco TL. Unconventional medicine in the United States. New Engl J of Med. 1993;328:246-252.

2. Eisenberg DM, Davis RB, Ettner SL, Appel S, Wilkey S, Van Rompay M, Kessler RC. Trends in Alternative Medicine use in the United States, 1990-1997: Results of a Follow-up National Survey. JAMA. 1998;280(18):1569-1575.




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Maine Medical Center | 22 Bramhall Street | Portland, Maine 04102-3175 | (207) 662-0111