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The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has launched "Time to Talk," an educational campaign aimed at getting health care professionals and patients to discuss the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).


Almost two-thirds of people ages 50 or older are using some form of CAM, yet less than one-third of these people have discussed it with their health care providers, according to a survey by NCCAM and AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons). The telephone survey involved a national sample of 1,559 people ages 50 or older.


The most common reasons people gave for not discussing CAM with care providers are that the provider never asked, they didn't know they should discuss it, and they didn't have enough time during the office visit. More than half of people who discussed CAM with their care provider said they, not their provider, had initiated the discussion.


The Time to Talk campaign encourages providers to include a question about CAM use on medical history forms and to ask patients to bring a list of all therapies they use.


For more information on Time to Talk, visit NCCAM's Web site at http://nccam.nih.gov/timetotalk.