I have covered developments of the Society for Integrative Oncology over the 19 years since the organization placed its flag squarely in the emerging, evidence-based integrative medicine era. Many of its accomplishments have been remarkable for the broader integrative medicine field. SIO has had success in creating guidelines that have been endorsed by conventional oncology organizations. Internally, the organization has, since its beginning, fostered an interprofessional environment that has, for instance, included naturopathic physicians in the presidency and leading its marquis integrative breast cancer guideline initiative. I’d never attended their conference until this year when I was one of 380 souls at the October 27-29, 2019 conference in Phoenix. Here are some impressions. Credit the 19th century composer Mussorgsky for the title.
Not long ago researchers at Yale cast a pall over the use of complementary medicine in the care of cancer patients – a.k.a. “integrative oncology.” The negativity was based on a fundamental misclassification. Nevertheless, the wrong-headed results prompted a flurry of news accounts that suggested the users of complementary medicine “die earlier than those who didn’t.” A more expansive and deeper look at the potential values of integrative oncology can be gained via a recent Special Focus Issue on Integrative Oncology with its 6 invited reviews, 13 original research articles, 7 commentaries, and 2 editorials. The submissions came from 4 continents.
Pick an organization, any organization, in complementary and integrative health and medicine. Good money says that when its members assemble to brainstorm the organization’s optimal future, thought will be given to how to respond to negative media. Sticky dots indicating participant priorities will fly onto poster paper to support developing a method to promptly respond.
One can easily count the chickens of non-pharmacological approaches highlighted in multiple organizational guidelines and state strategies related to pain and opioids. But one definitely cannot count on them hatching inside each new, significant policy initiative. Regular medicine tends to regress toward a non-inclusive mean in pain treatment. And “mean” may be the operative word – at least from the perspective of individuals who remain unaware of the integrative therapies and practitioners that may help them.