The University of Southampton
Complementary & Integrated Medicine Research

One in ten of the UK population use complementary medicine each year and approximately 50% are lifetime users. The House of Lords' Report has clearly defined a public need for further research into both safety and efficacy.

The Department of Health research capacity building initiative was one of the first main responses to the Select Committee's recommendations. We have developed a complementary medical research unit within the University of Southampton with cooperation from colleagues, both within Southampton Medical School and in other Schools and Faculties at Southampton. As a consequence of our academic success and team based approach we have been able to draw in major funding along with a growing body of high quality peer review publications.

The Complementary and Integrated Medicine Research Unit was established by George Lewith in 1995 with his appointment as Honorary Visiting Senior Lecturer. George was later given University contract as a Professor of Health Research within the Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences where the unit is located.

The unit was initially provided with core funding by the Maurice Laing Foundation and has been able to generate substantial amounts of soft money funding for a number of minor and major projects from charitable (including Wellcome) sources as well as NHS R&D funding. The Southampton Complementary Medicine Research Trust provides our unit with an administrative core. Professor Lewith was also been a Visiting Professor to the School of Integrated Health at the University of Westminster.

Over the years the unit has created a unique interdisciplinary team (non-clinical post-docs, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists and health psychologists) in Southampton which has developed considerable skill in primary clinical research within CAM. These studies have been directed at asking not only where complementary therapies may be most applicable, but whether and how they work.

Furthermore, the research has led the unit to understand that the nature and content of the therapeutic relationship within complementary medicine is of paramount importance and therefore they are in the process of developing clinical trial methodology that will allow them to look at the consultation independently from a particular therapeutic intervention, focusing particularly on the non-specific effects of homeopathy and acupuncture in chronic disease. The major studies in which the unit has been involved to date are well described in this section of our website.

We have been able to develop a unique research environment that we hope combines the best of complementary and integrated medicine and conventional medicine.

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