Which research is needed to support clinical decision-making on integrative medicine?—Can comparative effectiveness research close the gap?
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- Witt, C.M., Huang, W., Lao, L. et al. Chin. J. Integr. Med. (2012) 18: 723. doi:10.1007/s11655-012-1255-z
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In clinical research on complementary and integrative medicine, experts and scientists have often pursued a research agenda in spite of an incomplete understanding of the needs of end users. Consequently, the majority of previous clinical trials have mainly assessed the efficacy of interventions. Scant data is available on their effectiveness. Comparative effectiveness research (CER) promises to support decision makers by generating evidence that compares the benefits and harms of the best care options. This evidence, more generalizable than the evidence generated by traditional randomized controlled trials (RCTs), is better suited to inform real-world care decisions. An emphasis on CER supports the development of the evidence base for clinical and policy decision-making. Whereas in most areas of complementary and integrative medicine data on comparative effectiveness is scarce, available acupuncture research already contributes to CER evidence. This paper will introduce CER and make suggestions for future research.