The survey, called Integrative Physicians Market Landscape, examined more than 1,000 integrative doctors from 49 states. Data were obtained from various health organizations and media partners such as the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine, American College for Advancement in Medicine, and the Academy of Integrative Pain Management as well as the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, the Functional Forum, and Today's Practitioner.
The results showed that 55 percent of all medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy surveyed have adopted an integrative philosophy post-schooling. The poll also showed that younger doctors make faster transitions to integrative medicine. The researchers said they expect this shift to continue.
The poll also revealed that 84 percent of respondents used nutritional protocols and dietary supplements to improve their patients' health. The researchers also found that 83 percent of integrative medicine practitioners consider a patient's spiritual life as a critical factor in healthcare.
Furthermore, the report showed that integrative medicine practitioners spend at least twice as much time with patients compared with traditional physicians. The poll also found that 67 percent of doctors reported that their quality of life was as much better or slightly better since they started practicing integrative medicine.
"I think what is happening now is there is a sea change in the number of integrative physicians that is now reaching critical mass. For example, if you look at this year's JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) these is an article showing the physicians need to pay more attention to nutrition. I would say this is a growing trend," Dr. Leonard Wineski, professor of medicine at various universities, said in a Nutra Ingredients U.S.A. article.
Data from the National Health Statistics Reports also showed that Americans exhibit an increasing preference to integrative medicine practices such as acupuncture, yoga, chiropractic care, and natural supplements.
According to the report, Americans paid as much as $14.7 billion out-of-pocket on visits to complementary practitioners -- such as chiropractors, yoga instructors, acupuncturists or massage therapist -- and about $12.8 billion on natural product supplements in 2012 alone. The researchers also found that about $2.7 billion was spent on books, CDs, videos, and other self-help materials associated with complementary health.
The report also indicated that healthcare spending on integrative medicine was significantly larger among adults compared with children. As per the report, American adults spent a total of $28 billion on integrative healthcare, compared with only $1.9 billion in children. People belonging in the lower-income bracket were also observed to spend a large proportion of money on integrative medicine.
"Substantial numbers of Americans spent billions of dollars out-of-pocket on these approaches -- an indication that users believe enough in the value of these approaches to pay for them...That's telling us that even people with low incomes are willing to spend a substantial amount on these products and interventions," said study co-author Richard Nahin.
"Integrative medicine is not going to have the same funding as pharmaceuticals do, but because of the consumer demand and increased interest from academia and our national government in integrative medicine and health, there has been an increase in research. And increasingly, there's more research validating the value of these approaches...Sometimes [patients] don't want to talk with their primary care medical doctor about it because they might feel self-conscious...It's absolutely critical that patients have those conversations and tell their doctors about the different types of care they're receiving, and demand that there is coordination," said Stephanie Romanoff, Communications Director for the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine.