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King's Fund report was misrepresented

We were disappointed to see Professor Edzard Ernst's piece ('Double Standards from The King's Fund', pulsetoday.co.uk/ernst), which misrepresented key findings of the report of an independent advisory group published by The King's Fund.

Assessing Complementary Practice: Building consensus on appropriate research methods in no way calls for NICE to approve treatments that cannot be proved effective, and only suggests that a 'holistic approach' be taken - finding an appropriate way to note the benefit of the non-specific effect of the relationship between practitioner and patient, for instance - if and only if there is evidence of the effectiveness of the main intervention. Nor does the report dismiss the need for placebo-controlled trials. I would refer any interested readers to pages 12-15 of the report for more details of the group's conclusions.

The main purpose of the report is to try to build consensus between the conventional and complementary health communities on how best researchers can go about building an evidence base of the efficacy and effectiveness (and by definition, in some cases the non-efficacy and non-effectiveness) of these increasingly popular complementary practices.

Where complementary therapies are offered as part of the NHS it is imperative that those responsible for spending public money base their decisions on sound evidence.

Doctors and patients need robust evidence to make informed decisions - more research will play a vital role in showing what works and what does not, what is cost-effective and what is not.

From Dr Anna Dixon, director of policy, The King's Fund

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