Research and living labs complementary care

Physicians, therapists and pharmaceutical companies have to demonstrate the effectiveness of their medical treatments. This also applies to natural medicine and other forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). To investigate the effectiveness of CAM treatments or medicines, independent scientific research is necessary. The Louis Bolk Institute (LBI) is an independent research organisation that studies the effectiveness of CAM, using different types of research including effectiveness studies, pragmatic evaluation studies, implementation studies and living labs. 

Effectiveness studies complementary care 

Users and care provider of homeopathic, anthroposophical and natural treatments benefit from having scientifically proven, ‘evidence-based’ medicine and treatments. The use of such complementary alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing. Patients often take the initiative themselves in looking for CAM treatments as patients increasingly take more ownership of their own healing process. Due to our ample experience in CAM research, we often are asked to perform these independent effectiveness studies. Unquestionably, we work according to the international ICH GCP standards.

Living labs complementary care

The LBI develops and tests measuring instruments, methods and concepts to monitor implementation processes of new Integrative Medicine treatment programs in for example primary care, elderly care and psychiatric care. We do this by developing and executing living labs together with the care organisations we work with, and we evaluate the effectiveness. We also investigate whether treatments take into account personal treatment needs and how they contribute to health. This is also called ‘pragmatic’ research. This is how we help our clients, like care homes, substantiate their treatment programs.

Communication between regular and complementary care

There is an urgent need for knowledge on the effectiveness, safety and use of CAM in our society, for consumers as well as for caregivers. Different studies show that communication on CAM among regular caregivers is problematic. By using our experience and expertise, we support the performance of assessment of needs studies and projects to enhance communication. For example, we have performed a project with a group of CAM therapists and regular caregivers on communication (COCOZ), for which we developed a set of practical tools. 

Relevant projects 

We have performed three large pragmatic studies: the effect of yoga on fatigue amongst breast cancer patients during chemotherapy, the effect of an individual homeopathic treatment of pre-menstrual syndrome compared with regular treatment, and hypnotherapy and meditation in children with headaches.

Recently, we also completed evaluations of living labs of CAM implementation. This includes the living lab prOUD, a study to implement and evaluate the use of probiotics for antibiotic related diarrhoea in a nursing home. We also completed an implementation and evaluation study on the use of visualisations exercises for people with a hip or knee replacement in a rehabilitation centre. Moreover, we performed a living lab study on CAM in nursing homes in which five different forms of CAM were implemented. 

Please check our relevant publications for more information.