I am about to enter into a nursing program and so have been taking an introductory course on it.  For this course we had to attend presentations made by senior nursing majors that were essentially designs for research projects based on peer-reviewed articles but not actually carrying the research out in the real world.  This is the senior project and it places an emphasis on "evidence-based practice," which has been important in elevating nursing as a profession.

While looking at these presentations, I decided to go over to the one that talked about Therapeutic Touch (TT).  I thought at first that it was talking about the effects of a hands on approach to nursing that was examining the effects of touch on patients.

Nope.  It was actually about TT as a way to manipulate some sort of energy field that somehow extends beyond the human body yet isn't one of the fundamental physical forces or anything else that is recognized by science.  I held my tongue since his evaluator was listening at the time and the presenter noted that the evaluator knew all about it.  I was staring at them because it was so odd to see an open display of belief in something with, as far as I know, no evidence to support it (apart from religion).

I remember watching an episode of Penn & Teller Bullshit that dealt with new age medicine and such.  In the episode, they have a girl on who has/had the Guiness world record as the youngest person to have research published in a medical journal.  At age 9 she showed that 21 practitioners of TT did worse than chance at being able to blindly guess whether her hand was over their right or left hand.  They only guessed correctly 4.1/10 times on average.  That happened in '98.  Yet studies continue to be done on the effects of TT while still making the claim that practitioners can sense a universal human energy field or something and then make a patient better by manipulating it.

This seems like a horribly unscientific thing to do for a profession that is trying to back up its practices with evidence-based research.  It's false and gives patients false hope.  If the benefit of it is the placebo effect, then it should be taught in such a way that practitioners know this and understand how to use it without teaching a lie to a patient.  However, it appears that proponents of it are still making miracle claims.

So I suppose I'm nervous that I'm going to have to fight against bullshit like this while learning and while practicing.  I want to be able to call "bullshit" when I see something like this, but I think that it would ruffle to many feathers.

Does anyone here work in nursing (or medicine) and see anything like this?  What are your thoughts on TT or other "alternative" or "new age" "medicines"?  Have you ever dealt with nurses or doctors who insist on wasting your time with these things?

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This from England.....

Yeah, I've been hearing about homeopathy (mostly from James Randi).  I don't know if it has a hold in major medical establishments in the US yet, but I have seen some of the "products" on the shelf in the medicine area of our stores.  I think that this would be a great video to show to people to explain it.

I think I need to start brushing up on alternative medicine in order to be prepared for meeting it...

TED Talk - enjoy!!


A professional nursing program is essentially touting New Age religious horseshit? Someone should talk to the state licensing agency responsible for nursing schools.

As far as I can tell, there's no official coursework in it.  However, TT is addressed at some point in the program (most likely in a class that isn't devoted to it).  It's probably not required to learn about it to pass the RN-NCLEX exams, so it would probably be looked at as an elective course if anyone does teach it.

We should start an atheist band called the Woo Fighters.

When did massage become "alt" medicine? It's not in the same category as anything presupposing nonsense like auras or souls.

Massage to help muscle aches and other mechanical fatigue is not 'alternative' medicine.  Massage to cure cancer, or any infection is most certainly 'alternative' or whatever they call 'woo' these days.  It depends on the affliction that the therapy is targeting.  Acupuncture certainly works for some things, but definitely not for others.  Antibiotics won't cure a viral infection.  Ibuprofen won't cure heartache.

The waving of hands over an area of body without physical contact however, only cures a shortage of money, and that works for the practitioner, not the patient.

And so much of the 'works' with alternative medicine tends to fall under either the placebo effect or the (acknowledged) beneficial effect of personal contact and care as opposed to clinical detachment. The actual treatment does nothing at all at best or is unhealthy (or even dangerous) at worst.

Well put.  It's important to realize that a practice must have evidence behind it and be shown to work to be considered a legitimate treatment.

Considering that Ms. Rosa showed that the practitioners she found could not do what they were claiming, it definitely calls the whole practice into question

I'm a newly-licensed massage therapist, and I can't tell you how frustrating sitting in class was at times. 

Massage at its core absolutely does/can provide health benefits, depending on what you're using it for (ie pain management, increasing circulation/lymph flow, increasing flexibility, among a slew of other things), and I'm relieved that more clinical research is coming out that supports this. But along with the training in physical tissue manipulation I also had to hear about shit like "energy work" and Reflexology, and they were often presented side-by-side, like they were equally as valid. I just had to make myself look at the situation as a hoop I had to jump through to finish school. One of my good friends, who is also an Atheist, went through training to be a yoga instructor, and she had a very similar experience, except it sounded like hers involved religious theory on top of some pseudo-science. Now that I'm done I can practice legitimate massage the way that I choose to, the same way some massage therapists specifically stick to energy work. To that I say practice away, because your clients will be coming to me when they realize your polarity work doesn't do shit to help their hip or back pain.   

In the mean time, if a client in a spa setting specifically asks me to perform Reflexology as part of a massage session, I know how to do it, so I do. Obviously if they ask me what I recommend I'd say "well not THAT", but I figure if they're dumb enough to drop another $45 for me to poke their feet for 30 minutes, then that's their business.

and Strega, EXACTLY. Lol

Stephy - I agree that massage therapy is a good, and even legitimate field, until someone begins making magical claims for it.

And I highly respect you for your choice of occupations - there are some people I wouldn't want to touch with a ten-foot Pole, or a nine-foot Hungarian.


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