The impact of NHS based primary care complementary therapy services on health outcomes and NHS costs: a review of service audits and evaluations

L Wye, D Sharp, Alison Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background
The aim of this study was to review evaluations and audits of primary care complementary therapy services to determine the impact of these services on improving health outcomes and reducing NHS costs. Our intention is to help service users, service providers, clinicians and NHS commissioners make informed decisions about the potential of NHS based complementary therapy services.

Methods
We searched for published and unpublished studies of NHS based primary care complementary therapy services located in England and Wales from November 2003 to April 2008. We identified the type of information included in each document and extracted comparable data on health outcomes and NHS costs (e.g. prescriptions and GP consultations).

Results
Twenty-one documents for 14 services met our inclusion criteria. Overall, the quality of the studies was poor, so few conclusions can be made. One controlled and eleven uncontrolled studies using SF36 or MYMOP indicated that primary care complementary therapy services had moderate to strong impact on health status scores. Data on the impact of primary care complementary therapy services on NHS costs were scarcer and inconclusive. One controlled study of a medical osteopathy service found that service users did not decrease their use of NHS resources.

Conclusion
To improve the quality of evaluations, we urge those evaluating complementary therapy services to use standardised health outcome tools, calculate confidence intervals and collect NHS cost data from GP medical records. Further discussion is needed on ways to standardise the collection and reporting of NHS cost data in primary care complementary therapy services evaluations.
Translated title of the contributionThe impact of NHS based complementary therapy services on health outcomes and NHS costs: A review of service audits and evaluations
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2009

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