NCCIH Time to Talk Campaign

NCCIH Time to Talk Campaign

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, M.A., M.S.
Posted May 09, 2015

Background

“Time to Talk” is an educational campaign, managed by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Time to Talk” encourages patients and their medical doctors and other healthcare providers, to discuss the use of complementary health practices.

Complementary health practices include practices and products that originated outside of mainstream medicine, such as, acupuncture, chiropractic care, herbal supplements, and meditation.

Why Talk?

Nearly 40 percent of Americans use some form of complementary health practice, according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey.

In 2007, Americans spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket for complementary medicine. The $33.9 billion accounted for approximately one and one-half percent of total healthcare expenditures, and more than 11 percent of total out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures. Much of total out-of-pocket spending was self-care, that is, products, classes, and materials not specifically recommended by a healthcare provider.

The scope, self-care nature, and costs of complementary healthcare by Americans strengthen the need for individual patients and their healthcare providers to talk about the use and safety of complementary healthcare practices.

In 2010, a survey was conducted by the NCCIH (then known as, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), in partnership with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

The 2010 survey confirmed that patients and providers often do not discuss the use of complementary health practices. Primary reasons are that patients do not know that they should tell their providers about their use of complementary health practices. And, providers do not ask their patients about their use of complementary health practices.

How to Start the Conversation

Talk specifically about your own healthcare needs. For example, if you are taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, and you are considering complementary healthcare practices, ask whether there might be harmful interactions between the medications and the complementary practices.

When you tell your medical doctors or other healthcare providers about your use of complementary health practices, you can more easily stay in control of your own health. When medical doctors or other healthcare providers are aware of which complementary health practices you are using or considering, they can help you to make wise choices.

Four Tips to Start the Conversation

  • In advance of your visit to your medical doctor or other healthcare provider, make a list of the complementary health practices you use. Remember to include over-the-counter and prescription medicines, as well as dietary and herbal supplements. When you are filling-out a patient history form during your visit, you can refer to your list.
  • Take your list with you into the medical examining room, so that you can refer to it, as you talk with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider. Some complementary health approaches can have an effect on conventional medicine, so your provider needs to know.
  • If you are considering a complementary health practice, always ask questions. Ask your provider about its safety, effectiveness, and possible interactions with prescription and nonprescription medicines.
  • Don’t wait for your medical doctor or other provider to ask about any complementary health practice that you are using or considering. Start the conversation.

Order or Download Your Free Patient Packet

As part of the Time to Talk campaign, NCCIH has developed a Free Patient Packet of helpful materials, to help you begin a conversation with your medical doctors or other healthcare providers. Order your packet online. Or, call: 1-888-644-6226.

Each packet contains the following information:

  • Backgrounder: Resources from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • TELL tip sheet: Tips for talking with healthcare providers
  • Patient Wallet Card: Card to help you to keep track of your medications, including dietary supplements and other complementary health products. You can take this card with you to your visits with your healthcare providers.
  • Get the Facts: Facts you should know if you are considering complementary medicine

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

References

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).
(Accessed 07 May 2015)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. NCCAM (now, NCCIH) Strategic Plan 2011-2015. “Exploring the Science of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
(Accessed 07 May 2015)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Health Topics: A to Z: Researched-based information from acupuncture to zinc.”
(Accessed 03 May 2015)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). “NCCIH Clearinghouse.”
(Accessed 03 May 2015

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Time to Talk (Home page).
(Accessed 03 May 2015

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Time to Talk (About page). “Backgrounder.”
(Accessed 03 May 2015)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Time to Talk. “Tell Your Health Care Provider About Your Use of Complementary Health Practices.”
(Accessed 03 May 2015)

 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Time to Talk with Your Health Care Providers: Four Tips to Start the Conversation.”
(Accessed 03 May 2015)

 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Time to Talk about Dietary Supplements: Five Things Consumers Need to Know.”
(Accessed 03 May 2015)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Time to Talk. “Ask Your Patients About Their Use of Complementary Health Practices.”
(Accessed 03 May 2015

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Time to Talk.  “Encourage Your Members to Talk About Complementary Health Practices.”
(Accessed 03 May 2015)

 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Time to Talk. Press Room. NCCIH Press Releases.” 
(Accessed 03 May 2015)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Time to Talk. “Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices.”
(Accessed 03 May 2015)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Time to Talk. “Your Free Patient Packet (Order or Download).”
(Accessed 05 May 2015)

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