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Challenges for Patients

Chronic diseases cost an astonishing amount to society, both in financial and personal terms. For instance, back pain costs the British economy roughly £6 billion annually with the loss of 110 million working days (National Back Pain Association statistics), figures extrapolated from the British Medical Journal suggest a cost to the National Health Service of £300 million per annum for treating childhood and adolescent asthma (Bryce F.P., Neville R. et al. "Controlled trial of audit facilitation in the diagnosis and treatment of childhood asthma in general practice" BMJ, 1995, 310, pp 838-842) and a fascinating article in the publication "Bandolier" quotes American work that says that migraine costs the USA $14.5 billion every year (Ferrari M.D. "The economic burden of migraine to society" PharmacoEconomics 1998. 13. pp667-676).

What is particularly interesting about this last paper is its statement that only 1 in 5 sufferers seek the help of a doctor. Recent work done at a blood testing laboratory has shown that on average their patients had suffered for 26 years before they became sufficiently desperate to have the laboratory's specific tests.

What are we to make of this?

It is surprising that people will put up with their symptoms for so long before they give up on conventional medicine and yet on the other hand it is equally unexpected that 4 out of 5 people with migraine in USA do not see a doctor with their problem. The number in Britain is more like 2 out of 5 due, it seems, to the NHS being free at the point of use. Both of these observations point, from opposite directions, to the absolute need for properly validated research into complementary therapies so that we can bring help to more people more early by publicising the results as widely as possible.

One of the problems with complementary medicine is its fragmentation. It is in the situation that mainstream medicine found itself a few generations ago. Between you all you have all the necessary information to raise the status of your chosen and effective therapies to the level of reputable mainstream treatments for the specific conditions that you suffer. All we have to do is collect and collate that information. We have written a challenge in similar terms to the therapists' communities asking if they will cooperate in methodical research to produce that evidence base, but we hope that you will encourage them to do this. The more therapists we can enlist the more robust and generally applicable will be the results.

Your therapy clearly works for you, please help us to bring its virtues to a wider audience by encouraging your therapist to participate in the necessary collaborative research.

Thank you.


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