In 2011, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) produced legislation that severely restricts the information that Acupuncture practitioners can feature within their websites and advertising. The rules limit us to only being able to mention seven conditions that acupuncture can help, despite the fact that there is a growing evidence base for its efficacy in treating a wide range of health complaints and this is verified by the experience of practitioners and patients alike.
You can help CAM practitioners lobby against this unfair situation by signing an online petition.
I fully agree that we need to have rules to dictate what healthcare practitioners can say in their advertising as unsubstantiated claims can be misleading and even dangerous. This is important for public safety and to ensure that people do not waste their time and money. I have seen several bad and embarrassing examples of this and I feel it degrades our profession. I am also completely in support of using an evidence based approach towards the future development of the practice of complimentary medicine as I discussed in this post.
However, the guidelines were developed following substantial pressure on the ASA by skeptic groups and anti-CAM lobbyists which has lead to an unfair bias. Concerns have also been raised about whether the ASA is competent to objectively review the information and evidence that is at the heart of the debate. The rules are tantamount to censorship and we need to have a middle-ground.
Consumers need to be protected against misleading advertising but they also need to have the necessary information to make informed decisions. The guidelines in their current form prevent this and I do not believe that this is in the best interest of the public. You may be able to benefit from trying out a complimentary therapy for a health complaint but this new legislation makes it more difficult for you to carry out balanced research and make up your own mind before visiting a practitioner.
A CAM practitioner has recently created and online petition to request that the Health Secretary reviews this debate and takes action. The petition takes seconds to fill out and currently has almost 3000 signatures.
Thanks for your help