The European Journal of Health Economics

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 703–705 | Cite as

Do patients registered with CAM-trained GPs really use fewer health care resources and live longer? A response to Kooreman and Baars. Eur J Health Econ (2012). 13:469–776

  • Christopher James SampsonEmail author
  • David George Thomas Whitehurst
  • Andrew Street
Original Paper

We read with interest the article by Kooreman and Baars, which aimed to "explore the cost-effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) compared with conventional medicine” [3]. More specifically, this paper compared health-care costs and mortality rates across two patient populations, the primary distinguishing feature being whether or not patients’ general practitioners (GP) had completed certified additional training in CAM. The paper addresses an important and thought-provoking issue, and adds to a relatively small (though not neglected) area of health economics research. The authors assert that patients registered to a CAM-GP have lower health-care costs and mortality rates. Although specific policy implications are not discussed in the article, one would assume that the authors would infer that their results provide support for CAM on the grounds of cost-effectiveness. We believe these findings could be widely cited, as is commonplace for ‘supportive’ CAM...


Healthcare costs Life expectancy Complementary medicine 

JEL Classification

I11 I12 


  1. 1.
    Furlan, A.D., van Tulder, M.W., Cherkin, D.C., Tsukayama, H., Lao, L., Koes, B.W., Berman, B.M.: Acupuncture and dry-needling for low back pain. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. CD001, 351 (2005). doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001351.pub2 Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Green, S., Buchbinder, R., Barnsley, L., Hall, S., White, M., Smidt, N., Assendelft, W.: Acupuncture for lateral elbow pain. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. CD003, 527 (2002). doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003527 Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kooreman, P., Baars, E.W.: Patients whose GP knows complementary medicine tend to have lower costs and live longer. Eur. J. Health Econ. 13(6), 769–776 (2012). doi: 10.1007/s10198-011-0330-2 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Latimer, N.: NICE guideline on osteoarthritis: is it fair to acupuncture? Yes. Acupunct. Med. 27(2), 72–75 (2009). doi: 10.1136/aim.2009.000802 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Latimer, N.R., Bhanu, A.C., Whitehurst, D.G.T.: Inconsistencies in NICE guidance for acupuncture: reanalysis and discussion. Acupunct. Med. 30(3), 182–186 (2012). doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2012-010152 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Linde, K., Berner, M.M., Kriston, L.: St John’s wort for major depression. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. CD000, 448 (2008). doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD000448.pub3 Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ratcliffe, J., Thomas, K.J., MacPherson, H., Brazier, J.: A randomised controlled trial of acupuncture care for persistent low back pain: cost effectiveness analysis. BMJ 333(7569), 626 (2006). doi: 10.1136/bmj.38932.806134.7C Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Smith, C.A., Zhu, X., He, L., Song, J.: Acupuncture for primary dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. CD007, 854 (2011). doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007854.pub2 Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Trinh, K.V., Graham, N., Gross, A.R., Goldsmith, C.H., Wang, E., Cameron, I.D., Kay, T.: Acupuncture for neck disorders. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. CD004, 870 (2006). doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004870.pub3 Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Whitehurst, D.G.T., Bryan, S., Hay, E.M., Thomas, E., Young, J., Foster, N.E.: Cost-effectiveness of acupuncture care as an adjunct to exercise-based physical therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee. Phys. Ther. 91(5), 630–641 (2011). doi: 10.2522/ptj.20100239 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Zhu, X., Hamilton, K.D., McNicol, E.D.: Acupuncture for pain in endometriosis. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. CD007, 864 (2011). doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007864.pub2 Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher James Sampson
    • 1
    Email author
  • David George Thomas Whitehurst
    • 2
    • 3
  • Andrew Street
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Mental HealthUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Health SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  3. 3.Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and EvaluationVancouver Coastal Health Research InstituteVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Centre for Health EconomicsUniversity of YorkYorkUK

Personalised recommendations