Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) 2017 01 23() doi 10.1089/acm.2016.0288
Research demonstrates the benefits of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in myriad environments. Yet, the majority of CAM services are offered in outpatient settings. Incorporating CAM into hospital settings may lead to increased patient comfort, well-being, and overall satisfaction with hospital admissions. Few studies have examined CAM services among inpatients. Therefore, this study assessed inpatients’ preferences and beliefs regarding CAM, as well as their stated willingness to pay for these services.
Adult patients (n = 100), ranging in age from 19-95 years (M = 53 years; SD = 19.2 years), were recruited during their hospitalization in the University of California, San Diego, Healthcare System. The inpatients completed a brief individual interview to gather their perspectives on common CAM services, including acupuncture, aromatherapy, art therapy, guided imagery, healthy food, humor therapy, massage therapy, music therapy, pet therapy, Reiki, and stress management. Inpatients were asked which CAM therapies they perceived as being potentially the most helpful, their willingness to pay for those therapies, and their perceived beliefs regarding the use of those therapies.
Inpatients most commonly perceived healthy food (85%), massage therapy (82%), and humor therapy (70%) to be the most helpful, and were most willing to pay for healthy food (71%), massage therapy (70%), and stress management (48%). Inpatients most commonly believed CAM treatments would provide relaxation (88%), increase well-being (86%), and increase their overall satisfaction with the hospitalization (85%).
This study suggests that CAM services may be a beneficial addition to hospitals, as demonstrated by inpatients’ interest and stated willingness to pay for these services. These findings may help organizational leaders when making choices regarding the development of CAM services within hospitals, particularly since a significant percentage of inpatients reported that CAM services would increase their overall satisfaction with the hospitalization. These results merit further attention given the need to increase cost savings while enhancing the overall patient experience in today’s medical marketplace.