The use of complimentary and alternative medicine in a hospital setting has more than doubled in the past four years, recent research shows. A survey of more than 4,800 hospitals conducted by the Chicago-based American Hospital Association (AHA) reveals that more than 15 percent of hospitals are now offering complementary and alternative (CAM) healthcare services. In 1998, 6 percent of hospitals offered CAM services.

Patient demand sparked the increase, AHA says. However, 24 percent of the CAM services currently offered come as a result of shifts in hospitals' missions. Other motivators include clinical effectiveness, strategies for attracting new patients and differentiation from competitors, the survey finds.

The five most popular hospital-based CAM services are pastoral care, massage therapy, relaxation treatment, guided imagery and therapeutic nutrition.