The research environment – University of Copenhagen

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The interdisciplinary research environment

KUFAB is a research environment under the leadership of professor dr. phil. Bo Jacobsen, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen. It is the first time in Denmark that research into the effect of alternative treatment has been undertaken at university level. The concrete research is partly carried out on the locations on the University and partly at other institutes with a close relationship to the performed treatments.

The research environment integrates researchers from medical sciences, social science, the humanities and others disciplinary areas. The researchers cooperate with a large range of alternative practitioners. Some experienced practitioners, who function as specialists in their particular field, are involved in the planning of research.

The research-group consists of physicians, psychologists, sociologists, an economist, and researchers from the Institutes of Exercise and Sport Sciences, Philosophy and Public Health. The group was granted 4,8 millions to research during the period of 2006-2008. The funds came from ViFAB; the governmental Knowledge & Research Centre for Alternative Medicine. This group from the University of Copenhagen had been chosen ahead of 25 other research-groups. Later over 5 millions have been added from other foundations, so there has been gathered around 10 million krones.

The research environment shares secretariat with the Centre for Research in Existence and Society, which is situated at the Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen.

Project 1

The interdisciplinary research of alternative treatment

A group of researchers have joined to study whether reflexology, acupuncture and meditation have an effect on widespread diseases such as cancer and Multiple Sclerosis. It is the first time that the effect of alternative treatment has been examined at university level. The research is performed in cooperation with alternative practitioners, who select the optimal conditions concerning the amount of treatments and the way of carrying out of the treatments. Leader of the project, Bo Jacobsen, comments on the project that it has had a good start: "There has been made a mutual binding collaboration contract. We as researchers have the right to decide how and when the result is published. But the practitioners are in charge of the treatments and have the right to arrange themselves exactly as if they where giving treatments at home or in their clinics." The research group, which consist of physicians, psychologists, sociologists, an economist as well as researchers from the science of athletics, philosophy and public health, has been given a grant of 4.8 million Krone for a start from the governmental institution ViFAB (Knowledge and Research Centre for Alternative Treatment). This research group from Copenhagen University has been chosen out of a contest between 25 other research groups. Further grants have been given afterwards, but the application for more grants will continue to supply the research funds, partly to finance the improvement of the studies (for example by involving more patients in the studies in progress), partly to have the opportunity to start new investigations on other forms of treatment.

A more fundamental research of both theoretical and empirical art of the three chosen alternative treatments have been initiated. Furthermore three studies on the effect of alternative treatment on the development of cervical cancer, on the side effects of chemotherapy in the treatment of breast cancer and on Multiple Sclerosis are now in progress. The following is a description of each project.

Theoretical and empirical studies of the three forms of treatments

  • In-depth interviews and analysis with the treated about the effect of the treatments. The results of the study are used in the development of a questionnaire designed to measure the effect of acupuncture, reflexology or meditation.
  • The concepts in alternative and conventional treatment. Can the effect of alternative or conventional treatment be measured by the same criteria?
  • The PNI-theory (PNI=Psycho-Neuro-Immunology). Alternative treatments effect on the immune system.
  • Analysis of blood samples referring to the PNI-theory (see above).
  • Alternative treatment and placebo. What is placebo in terms of alternative treatment? 

MICA- Research in the effect from Mindfulness after Breast cancer treatment, has been initiated in 2008 

A comparative study of conventional and alternative treatments at Multiple Sclerosis rehabilitation centres

Here we wish to examine the effect of an assembled selection of integrated treatments offered to patients with Multiple Sclerosis. The patients have the opportunity to have more self-elected treatments at a time. The effects of the treatments will be compared with a group of conventionally treated patients. The investigation has as an objective to try to capture, describe and estimate the daily complex reality of treatments as a whole. The options of treatment are: Reflexology, acupuncture, cranio-sacral therapy and -massage, classical homeopathy as well as nutrition therapy.

The objective for the project as a whole is: 1) To explore the possibilities of bettering the treatments offered to patients with Multiple Sclerosis. 2) To develop a model for bridge building to better the conditions for cooperation between established and alternative practitioners in connection with patients with Multiple Sclerosis. 3) To study whether integrated treatment leads to changes in the Immune system of the patients involved.