Naturopathic care places emphasis on prevention and holistic lifestyle changes, presenting an attractive alternative to conventional care for the management of many illnesses. Surprisingly, comparative data on processes of care and outcomes provided by naturopathic versus allopathic providers are lacking. Evaluation of naturopathic management of chronic disease is needed, particularly in communities with limited access to other providers. Diabetes is a major epidemic and low-income and minority populations are disproportionately affected by the burden of this disease. There is great need for expanded health services and disparities research in this area. Proposed is a rigorous post-doctoral training program in health services and disparities research for a naturopathic physician. The goals of the proposed training are to;(1) cultivate skills for a naturopathic physician researcher in health services and disparities research methodology, and (2) build the scientific foundation for a program of research evaluating the content, costs and outcomes of naturopathic diabetes care.
The specific aims are to: (1) Acquire knowledge in the principles of health services and disparities research through Master of Public Health coursework, (2) Develop skills in the fundamental aspects of health services and disparities research in CAM through mentored trainin, and (3) Conduct a mixed methods (quantitative + qualitative) pilot study examining the content of type 2 diabetes (T2DM) care provided by naturopathic and allopathic physicians, employing a triangulated approach to define and compare the content of care. In addition, a patient survey designed to characterize the patient populations in both settings will be refined and validated for use in future studies. Data gathered from this survey will reveal salient characteristics of the patient populations which may influence access, service utilization, and satisfaction, thus building a foundation for a naturopathic health services research career. In line with the mission of the AHRQ, this program of research investigates naturopathic care as a means to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care delivered in low-income and uninsured populations at the community level, and is in line with NCCAM's mission towards the health promotion and disease prevention initiatives of "Healthy People 2010."
National initiatives have recognized the need to train CAM researchers in health services and disparities research. Diabetes is an enormous public health problem, and necessitates research on innovative approaches to prevention and management. The proposed training addresses these needs and will result in research findings that greatly contribute to the naturopathic evidence base.
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