At Boston Medical Center, the Program for Integrative Medicine and Health Care Disparities offers patients a variety of integrative services, which combines the best of conventional medicine with safe, effective evidence-based complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage and yoga. The mission of the program is to substantially impact the quality of life for the urban underserved through access to integrative medicine clinical services, research and education. Safe, evidence-based therapies are offered free of charge—which include acupuncture, massage, yoga and chi gong—and are provided to approximately 1,500 patients a year who benefit from one or more of the therapies.
The program partners with schools, such as the New England School of Acupuncture, to create internship programs for students seeking experience in the clinical setting. Robert Saper, MD, MPH, leads BMC's integrative medicine effort, which relies entirely on grants, private philanthropy and volunteers to operate, and his colleagues study disparities in complementary and alternative medicine, their implications and strategies to address them. The Program for Integrative Medicine and Health Care Disparities at BMC and the Boston University School of Medicine has been awarded two grants from the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, including a $2.75 million grant to compare the effectiveness of yoga to physical therapy for the treatment of chronic lower back pain in low-income minorities.