Karolinska Institutet uses the term “integrative medicine” in its broad sense, taking it to denote the development and integration of evidence-based knowledge from different disciplines and traditions that can complement established medicine. Integrative medicine seeks a broad view of human health, and strives to understand not only which methods are effective but the mechanisms behind the effect as well. This demands an eclectic, cross-disciplinary approach that takes into account the psychological and social aspects of health as well as the medical.

There are now plans to announce a professorship to guide the centre. “The centre’s function will be to conduct research and to offer courses and information in the field of integrative medicine,” explains Mr Lekander.

The centre will concentrate on three overall themes:
1. Biomedical research into the active mechanisms behind and efficacy of complementary therapies in order to evaluate them, gather knowledge about them, and inform the public and practitioners about the scientific support they have.
2. Cognitive, psychology-oriented research, integrating psychological and biological perspectives, into such areas as well-being, placebo, the health experience, and lifestyle factors.
3. A public health science perspective on the use of complementary methods. This might concern how the choice of method is made, and how established therapies integrate with complementary ones. Which needs are met by the different schools and which are not? This introduces economic considerations, such as how the health services can be made more cost-effective and how health affects the economy.

Karolinska Institutet hopes that the centre will become a centre of excellence to which practitioners and the public can turn for information about particular therapies. Another important objective is to offer courses on integrative medicine regarding complementary methods that are backed up by hard science.

“Ultimately our goal is the same as that of Karolinska Institutet as a whole: to help improve people’s health,” says Mr Lekander. “This we hope to do by applying and integrating biomedical, psychological and social perspectives.”

Once the centre has opened, work can begin on developing the rest of the business. The centre eventually plans to advertise more positions and to offer research grants.

For more information contact:
Mats Lekander, psychology researcher, head of the psychology section of the Department of Clinical Neuroscience and acting director of Karolinska Institutet’s Osher centre for integrative medicine; tel: +46 8 524 824 45, +46 73 707 22 92 (mobile), mats.lekander@ki.se

Professor Karin Harms-Ringdahl of the physiotherapy section of Neurotec department, and chair of the steering committee of Karolinska Institutet’s Osher centre for integrative medicine; tel: +46 8 524 888 15, karin.harms-ringdahl@ki.se

Sabina Bossi, Press Officer at Karolinska Institutet; tel: +46 8 524 838 95, sabina.bossi@ki.se

Karolinska Institutet is one of the leading medical universities in Europe. Through research, education and information, Karolinska Institutet contributes to improving human health. Each year, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.