FYI Daily

Hospitals Offering More Alternative Therapies

Last updated: Nov 17, 2011

Indirect myofascial release, Charlotte Stuart doing pain reduction procedure, Nelson, New Zealand

Don't be surprised if your loved one is offered massage to relax before his or her next surgery, or acupuncture for relief from chemotherapy-related nausea. So-called "integrative therapies" are on the rise at U.S. hospitals, reports the Washington Post.

Other examples of alternative offerings at hospitals include meditation, guided imagery, pet therapy, and music/art therapy. According to a recent survey by the American Hospital Association and the Samueli Institute, 42 percent of 714 hospitals offered at least one such therapy in 2010, up from 27 percent five years earlier.

Evidence is mixed on the effectiveness of various alternative therapies. So why the spike in offerings? Patients like them. The AHA survey found that patient satisfaction was the top measure used to evaluate the success of an offering (cited by 85 percent of respondents). Fewer than half of hospitals said they were using health outcomes to measure the success of their programs.

Alas, most of these therapies aren't covered by insurance. Which means that, if asked, you and your loved one will have to think hard before saying yes, please.