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Background: The diagnostic framework and clinical reasoning process in Chinese medicine emphasizes the contextual and qualitative nature of a patient's illness. Chinese medicine assessment data may help interpret clinical outcomes. Objectives: As part of a study aimed at assessing the validity and improving the inter-rater reliability of the Chinese diagnostic process, a structured assessment instrument was developed for use in clinical trials of acupuncture and other Chinese medical therapies. Study design: To foster collaboration and maximize resources and information, an interdisciplinary advisory team was assembled. Under the guidance of two group process facilitators, and in order to establish whether the assessment instrument was consistent with accepted Chinese medicine diagnostic categories (face validity) and included the full range of each concept's meaning (content validity), a panel of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) expert clinicians was convened and their responses were organized using the Delphi process, an iterative, anonymous, idea-generating and consensus-building process. An aggregate rating measure was obtained by taking the mean of mean ratings for each question across all 10 experts. Results: Over three rounds, the overall rating increased from 7.4 (SD = 1.3) in Round 1 to 9.1 (SD = 0.5) in Round 3. The level of agreement among clinicians was measured by a decrease in SD. Conclusions: The final instrument TEAMSI-TCM (Traditional East Asian Medicine Structured Interview, TCM version) uses the pattern differentiation model characteristic of TCM. This modular, dynamic version was specifically designed to assess women, with a focus on gynecologic conditions; with modifications it can be adapted for use with other populations and conditions. TEAMSI-TCM is a prescriptive instrument that guides clinicians to use the proper indicators, combine them in a systematic manner, and generate conclusions. In conjunction with treatment manualization and training it may serve to increase inter-rater reliability and inter-trial reproducibility in Chinese medicine clinical trials. Testing of the validity and reliability of this instrument currently is underway.
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Background Behavioral paradigms applied during human recordings in electro- and magneto- encephalography (EEG and MEG) typically require 1–2 hours of data collection. Over this time scale, the natural fluctuations in brain state or rapid learning effects could impact measured signals, but are seldom analyzed. Methods and Findings We investigated within-session dynamics of neocortical alpha (7–14 Hz) rhythms and their allocation with cued-attention using MEG recorded from primary somatosensory neocortex (SI) in humans. We found that there were significant and systematic changes across a single ∼1 hour recording session in several dimensions, including increased alpha power, increased differentiation in attention-induced alpha allocation, increased distinction in immediate time-locked post-cue evoked responses in SI to different visual cues, and enhanced power in the immediate cue-locked alpha band frequency response. Further, comparison of two commonly used baseline methods showed that conclusions on the evolution of alpha dynamics across a session were dependent on the normalization method used. Conclusions These findings are important not only as they relate to studies of oscillations in SI, they also provide a robust example of the type of dynamic changes in brain measures within a single session that are overlooked in most human brain imaging/recording studies.
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In light of a growing interest in contemplative practices such as meditation, the emerging field of contemplative science has been challenged to describe and objectively measure how these practices affect health and well-being. While “mindfulness” itself has been proposed as a measurable outcome of contemplative practices, this concept encompasses multiple components, some of which, as we review here, may be better characterized as equanimity. Equanimity can be defined as an even-minded mental state or dispositional tendency toward all experiences or objects, regardless of their origin or their affective valence (pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral). In this article, we propose that equanimity be used as an outcome measure in contemplative research. We first define and discuss the inter-relationship between mindfulness and equanimity from the perspectives of both classical Buddhism and modern psychology and present existing meditation techniques for cultivating equanimity. We then review psychological, physiological, and neuroimaging methods that have been used to assess equanimity either directly or indirectly. In conclusion, we propose that equanimity captures potentially the most important psychological element in the improvement of well-being, and therefore should be a focus in future research studies.
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Objective To determine whether placebo responses can be explained by characteristics of the patient, the practitioner, or their interpersonal interaction. Methods We performed an analysis of videotape and psychometric data from a clinical trial of IBS patients treated with placebo acupuncture in either a warm empathic interaction (Augmented, n=96), a neutral interaction (Limited, n=97), or a waitlist control (Waitlist, n=96). We examined the relations between placebo response and: (1) patient personality and demographics; (2) treating practitioner; and (3) the patient-practitioner interaction as captured on videotape and rated by the Psychotherapy Process Q-Set (PQS). Results Patient extraversion, agreeableness, openness to experience, and female gender were associated with placebo response, but these effects held only in the augmented group. Regression analyses controlling for all other independent variables suggest that only extraversion is an independent predictor of placebo response. There were significant differences between practitioners in outcomes, and this effect was twice as large as the effect attributable to treatment group assignment. Videotape analysis indicated that the augmented group fostered a treatment relationship similar to a prototype of an ideal healthcare interaction. Conclusions Gender and personality influenced placebo response, but only in the warm, empathic, augmented group. This suggests that to the degree a placebo effect is evoked by the patient-practitioner relationship, personality characteristics of the patient will be associated with placebo response. This finding may explain why consistent predictors of the placebo response have been difficult to detect. In addition, practitioners differed markedly in effectiveness, despite standardized interactions. We propose that the quality of the patient-practitioner interaction accounts for the significant difference between the groups in placebo response.
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Introduction: Acupuncture is a complex holistic intervention in which patient–practitioner relationships and healing changes occur in interactive, iterative ways. Qualitative research is one way to capture such complexity. This study sought to understand better the experiences of adolescents involved in acupuncture treatment. Materials and methods: We included a qualitative substudy as part of a pilot randomized sham-controlled study of the use of Japanese acupuncture to treat chronic pelvic pain in adolescent girls. Seven (7) interviews were attained. Themes were double-coded and analyzed using qualitative analysis software. Results: Regardless of treatment arm, all subjects reported positive study-related changes, often attributed to positive qualities of the patient–practitioner relationship. Participants in both the sham and verum acupuncture treatment arms reported in the narratives that they were unsure of their study assignment. In contrast, the study's close-ended success of blinding question suggests that some participants were sure of their treatment allocation. Conclusions: As we continue to study acupuncture using sham controls, we need a better understanding of the possible affects of sham treatments on both treatment outcomes and success of blinding. Qualitative research is one-way to explore subtle emergent changes in participants' experiences.
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This study explores two conflictingmodels of how patients experience mind-bodytherapies; these models frame the design of aclinical trial examining the effects of qigong (a traditional Chinese movementtherapy) on the immune systems of former cancerpatients. Data consist of ethnographic researchand in-depth interviews conducted at the Bostonteaching hospital where the trial is to takeplace. These interviews, with biomedicalresearchers who designed the trial and with theqigong master responsible for the qigong arm of the trial, reveal twofundamentally different understandings of howqigong is experienced and how thatexperience may be beneficial. The biomedicalteam sees qigong as a non-specifictherapy which combines relaxation and exercise. The qigong master, on the other hand,sees qigong as using specific movementsand visualizations to direct mental attentionto specific areas of the body. Thus while thebiomedical team frames qigong as a“mind-body” practice, the qigong masterframes it as a “mind-in-body” practice. This research suggests that the biomedicalnotion that mind-body therapies work byeliciting mental relaxation is only one way ofthinking about how patients experiencemodalities like qigong: indeed,characterizations of mind-body therapies whichemphasize a mental sense of relaxation may bespecific to biomedicine and the cultures whichsurround it. More broadly, the paper arguesthat gaps in understanding between researchersand practitioners may be hindering scientificefforts to assess therapies like qigong.It concludes by proposing that clinical trialsof traditional and alternative therapies buildethnographic inquiry about practitionerexperience into the design process.
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