Alternative and Complementary Therapies Task Force holds initial meeting

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The nine-member Task Force on Alternative and Complementary Therapies held its initial meeting Oct 23-24, 1999. Dr. Harmon Rogers, Snohomish, Wash, representing the AVMA Executive Board, chaired the meeting.

The Executive Board charge to the task force is fourfold: l to research the literature on the development and use of alternative and complementary therapies in veterinary medicine, including acupuncture, botanical medicine, chiropractic, holistic medicine, homeopathy, massage, nutraceuticals, and physical therapy; members decided this should include, but not be limited to the listed modalities. - to review the 1996 AVMA Guidelines on Alternative and Complementary Veterinary Medicine in light of current literature and knowledge about the application and efficacy of the alternative and complementary therapeutic methods - to recommend revisions to the guidelines to make them consistent with current knowledge in the subject areas, in order to provide up-to-date guidance for AVMA members - to review and report on programs designed to provide educational opportunities to veterinarians on the application and efficacy of alternative and complementary therapies.

The task force's review of the guidelines approved in 1996 revealed several areas that require attention, including a statement of purpose or a mission for the guidelines, consistency among the material included for each specific modality, and a more-specific definition of acceptable educational or training programs.

Task Force members discussed materials provided for their consideration. The members found particularly useful the information included in the Council report of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Ontario (CPSO). It was believed that many of the statements included in the CPSO report were applicable to veterinary medicine and could be modified for inclusion in the organization's foundational principles. Materials from the Australian Veterinary Medical Association Code of Practice for the use of Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine were considered appropriate.

The scope of the guidelines was determined. It was agreed that the categories described in the Classification of Complementary and Alternative Medical Practices, Office of Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health, would serve as a guide for modalities considered within the AVMA guidelines. The task force concluded that the guidelines should include information on acupuncture, acutherapy, and acupressure; homeopathy; phytotherapy or herbalism (botanicals); nutraceuticals (orthomolecular or biological interventions); chiropractic; massage therapy; and physical therapy (lasers, electrical sources, therapeutic ultrasound, and magnets).

Subcommittees will work on suggestions made at the meeting for the five foundational principles that apply to all modalities. Materials will subsequently be distributed to the entire task force for comment.

The task force selected Feb 12-13, 2000 for its next meeting.