Harvard/OLLI: Complementary and Integrative Medicine Pilot Study

October 14, 2018 Joe Brady

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Harvard/OLLI research project. We appreciate your willingness to help with the survey and those that participated in the Community Med School classes. Please continue to stay informed about the research we are doing and keep up to date with the latest information on integrative and traditional Chinese medicine. Read on to see a copy of the final abstract we submitted to Harvard Medical School’s Osher Institute on Integrative Medicine for the conference in November.

A Pilot Study of Complementary and Integrative Medicine in Community Health Education



Modern research has documented the potential contribution of complementary and integrative medicine practices to promote and support health literacy and empowerment in health promotion.  Authors conducted a pilot study aimed to determine the feasibility and acceptability of a lifelong learning program using a series of public education lectures with a complementary and integrative medicine approach to improving critical health literacy.


To meet the needs of a variety of stakeholders of older adults, clinicians, practitioners, and/or policymakers, the primary outcome measures used were from the RE-AIM (Reach, Efficacy, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance) health promotion evaluation framework. Older adults were recruited to attend a series of public lectures featuring content from the preventive medicine approaches of traditional Chinese medicine.  

Using an “open-label” design, data for the RE-AIM evaluation was collected using a mixed methods approach including questionnaires, evaluations, focus groups and interviews with stakeholders. This is a pilot study, therefore, no behavioral change or program maintenance data was collected.


Overall, the program was effective for all four of the RE-AIM criteria measured. The ability to reach the target audience was evidenced by Emails sent to 5600 to older learners in the Denver area. Recruiting a representative sample of 444 older adults (26% male, 74% female. Ages ranged from 29-94. Average age was 71). Effectiveness: 42 participants signed up for classes. Group A, 20 participants, Group B 22 participants compared to an average of 18 students per class in non-related classes. Adoption of the program was shown when sponsors were in favor of continuing with a larger study in the future. Seminar content was considered acceptable by the stakeholder’s groups. Logistical concerns in the implementation of the program indicated a few areas where improvements can be made.


Preliminary evaluation of the program suggests that the program is feasible and acceptable to implement and that it can provide credible, evidence-based information on complementary and integrative medicine to an interested public. A larger controlled trial is warranted.

Presenting author information

Joseph Brady M.S.T.C.M, L Ac., Dipl. O.M.

Adjunct Professor,  Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine


Jacqueline Shumway  M.A.

Lifelong Learning Site Coordinator, University of Denver, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute