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Effects and feasibility of an Integrative Medicine program for geriatric patients– a cluster-randomized pilot study

Authors Teut M, Schnabel K, Baur R, Kerckhoff A, Reese F, Pilgram N, Berger F, Luedtke R, Witt CM

Received 15 March 2013

Accepted for publication 9 May 2013

Published 22 July 2013 Volume 2013:8 Pages 953—961


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Michael Teut, Katharina Schnabel, Roland Baur, Annette Kerckhoff, Frauke Reese, Niels Pilgram, Franziska Berger, Rainer Luedtke, Claudia M Witt

Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Background: Older adults often use complementary medicine; however, very few interventional studies have focused on them. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and to obtain preliminary data on effectiveness of an Integrative Medicine (IM) program compared to usual medical care.
Methods: The study consisted of older adults living in shared apartment communities including caregiving. The shared apartments were cluster-randomized to the IM program or Usual Care (UC). IM consisted of additional lifestyle modification (exercise and diet), external naturopathic applications, homeopathic treatment, and modification of conventional drug therapy for 12 months. The UC group received conventional care alone. The following outcomes were used: Nurses Observation Scale for Geriatric Patients (NOSGER); Assessment of Motor and Process Skills; Barthel Index; Qualidem; Profile of Wellbeing; and Mini-mental State Examination. Exploratory effect sizes (Cohen’s d, means adjusted for differences of baseline values) were calculated to analyze group differences.
Results: A total of eight shared apartment communities were included; four were allocated to IM (29 patients, median seven patients; [mean ± standard deviation] 82.7 ± 8.6 years) and four to UC (29 patients, median eight patients; 76.0 ± 12.8 years of age). After 12 months, effect sizes ≥0.3 were observed for activities of daily living on the NOSGER-Activities of Daily Living subscale (0.53), Barthel Index (0.30), Qualidem total sum score (0.39), Profile of Wellbeing (0.36), NOSGER-Impaired Social Behavior (0.47), and NOSGER-Depressed Mood subscales (0.40). Smaller or no effects were observed for all other outcomes. The intervention itself was found to be feasible, but elaborate and time consuming.
Discussion: This exploratory pilot study showed that for a full-scale trial, the outcomes of Activities of Daily Living and Quality of Life seem to be the most promising. The results have to be interpreted with care; larger confirmatory trials are necessary to validate the effects.

Keywords: Activities of Daily Living, complementary and alternative medicine strategies, NOSGER, older adults, caregiving, apartment-sharing communities, homeopathy

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