Researchers of Traditional, Complementary, Alternative, & Integrative Medicine and Health

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Public: Research Outcomes Database

About the Database

Our goal was to create a database of outcome measures that are relevant to CAM and IHC/IM research. In addition, through the Framework of Health Outcome Domains, we aimed to conceptually organize the outcome measures to reflect a whole person perspective. The inclusion criteria we used to determine which outcome measures where appropriate for the database and the purpose of the project are:

The outcome measure:

  • is valid and reliable and the article on psychometric properties is available on-line/electronically
  • fits into at least one of the framework domains
  • can be used in effectiveness or efficacy research
  • is not a survey of CAM use
  • is available in English

Note: this image shows the organization of the domains, and one search route. It is not clickable. Access to the database is a member benefit.

Given the complexity of collecting and presenting data on such a diverse range and vast number of suitable outcome measures, and limited resources, the scope of the database has limitations. First, we anticipate that not all relevant or applicable outcome measures are listed in the database; it is a work in progress and the identification of relevant outcome measures and related information is an on-going process.  Second, instead of providing a psychometric assessment or rating of each outcome measure, we provide a list of relevant psychometric references so the user can make their own assessment as to the suitability of the outcome measure for their purposes. However, to help in this assessment, we provide information on Attributes of a good outcome measure (log in to access) in a dedicated webpage as well as in our Glossary (log in to access).

We intend this database project to be as interactive as possible; therefore, we invite users to suggest outcome measures (log in to submit) that may not (yet) be included in the Database. You may also provide your own rating of the outcome measure and post any comments or feedback based on your experience of using or applying it within a research or clinical context.

Development of the Database

The IN-CAM Outcomes Database was conceputalized and developed by Dr. Marja Verhoef (PI), Dr. Mark Ware (PI), Trish Dryden (co-I) and Dr. Charlotte Paterson (co-I). The Database was led to completion by project managers, Ania Kania-Richmond and Laura Weeks, and research assistants, Linda Ferguson, Antony Porcino, and Heidi Rassmussen. The website and database were developed by Centennial College, Toronto, ON and are maintained by Paralucent.

Planning for this database involved hosting a workshop at the 2nd IN-CAM Symposium, conducting a survey of CAM researchers, practitioners and students, obtaining input from experts in the field of CAM and outcome assessment, and conducting a literature review. Based on these activities, we have developed a comprehensive list of outcome measures that may be used in CAM and IHC/IM research, and a unique Framework of Health Outcome Domains (log in to view) that aims to categorize those outcome measures within a whole person perspective. In brief, the framework is intended to integrate seven measurable aspects (or "domains") of health into a unified scheme. Two additional components are included in the framework - context and process. It is important to consider that outcomes are not isolated events related only to a specific intervention. Outcomes take place within a certain context. In addition, whether and how change takes place is part of the process of the intervention. Therefore, although process and context of the intervention do not represent outcomes or domains of health, they have been identifed as being of an important consideration in outcome assessment in CAM research. As such, they are included in the framework. (Published paper on the development: Verhoef MJ, Ware MA, Dryden T, Gignac P, Weeks L, Kania A, Ferguson L, Mallory D, Xu T, Brazier A. (2007). Getting the measures you need: the IN-CAM Outcomes Database. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 12, 170-171.

Data Collection

For each outcome measure listed in the Database, one team member conducted a thorough literature search using medical databases (e.g., Ovid, Medline, CINAHL, EMBASE, PsychINFO), outcomes assessment textbooks and the internet. A second team member verified the information through an independent literature search as a measure of reliability. When possible and necessary, the developers of outcome measures were contacted to verify the information collected and to provide additional information when necessary.