Lab Canada

Collaborative research database to benefit complementary and alternative medicine

Toronto, ON – The McGill University Health Centre Research Institute and the University of Calgary in collaboration with Centennial College are launching a searchable database of outcome measures intended for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) researchers – the IN-CAM Outcomes Database. This innovative initiative promises to improve the quality and the range of CAM research that will lead to more effective treatments in the future.

“The mainstream use of complementary and alternative medicine continues to grow rapidly, however, more research needs to be done in this field,” says Trish Dryden, director of Centennial’s Applied Research Centre and a project co-investigator. “Nobody has put research instruments in a database that is responsive to CAM researchers’ needs, until now.”

The project is funded by the Lotte & John Hecht Memorial Foundation and the Canadian Interdisciplinary Network for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research (IN-CAM).

IN-CAM co-directors Dr Marja Verhoef and Dr Heather Boon believe that a coordinated, interdisciplinary and collaborative effort is needed to address the many gaps that exist in CAM research, for example, the type of health benefits people are seeking from CAM and how these needs vary depending on a person’s beliefs, culture and context. The IN-CAM Outcomes Database recognizes a range of outcome measures which address different health domains.

“This database provides CAM researchers with tools in an interactive forum to improve their research questions and methodology,” says co-investigator Dr Mark Ware, who is also director of clinical research at the Pain Clinic of the McGill University Health Centre. “We hope that this database will foster a community of CAM researchers and provide a forum for information exchange.” CAM researchers will be able to use the IN-CAM Outcomes Database to rate and comment on outcome measures and to propose new measures to be added.

As one of the principal investigators, University of Calgary’s Dr Verhoef will launch the database at the International Conference for Complementary Medicine Research held in Australia from March 28 to 31. John Weeks, an international opinion leader in integrative medicine, has already listed the IN-CAM Outcomes Database as one of the 10 most significant projects in integrative medicine in 2007-08.