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Research Group concerning Alternative Treatment at the University of Copenhagen (KUFAB)

Interdisciplinary research in the effects and effectiveness of alternative and complementary treatment

KUFAB is an interdisciplinary research environment, which integrates researchers from such disciplines as medical sciences, social science, the humanities and others disciplinary areas. It is organized at the Centre for Research in Existence and Society situated at the Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen (http://www.existence.ku.dk).

The researchers cooperate with the alternative practitioners, whose work constitutes the object for the research.

The research is based on both qualitative and quantitative studies. The qualitative part of the research consists of in-depth interviews with those who have been treated and their practitioners. The quantitative examines the effectiveness of the treatment's measurable effect on health related problems. Furthermore theoretical studies are performed.


Our objectives are to produce knowledge for society concerning alternative treatment based on evidence.

During 2006-08 the research will gather around cancer and sclerosis. The two diseases are widespread and cause a lot of complications. Often conventional treatment can't do enough. Both groups of patients have an extensive use of alternative or complementary treatment.

The research concentrates on three different forms of alternative treatment: Reflexology, acupuncture and meditation. The use of these three forms of treatment are widespread in the population, but our knowledge about their potential effectiveness is very limited.

The intention of the research group is to:

  1. Help improve the scientific knowledge about alternative treatment through co-ordination and translation of concepts and theories from the alternative and traditional approaches to health. In addition to that to develop cogently relations between alternative thinking and traditional empirical examination, which in the future will make it easier to test the arguments of alternative treatment empirically.
  2. Improve the existing research designs and methods so that the researchers can perform controlled, randomized trials on effect together with the test of alternative treatment in its everyday surroundings. The first research will provide the background for the group's work with the potentials of the concept placebo and develop new designs controlling the effect of placebo. Then the group will analyze, which elements from the whole treatment have an effect and uncover the possible interaction between specific and non-specific effect.
  3. Examine to what extent the theory of psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI) as a theoretical tool can explain the effects of alternative treatment, sometimes to be found. And to what extent PNI can function as a theoretical model for understanding the effectiveness of alternative treatment.
  4. To emphasize international publication and a Danish communication of the results. Furthermore to transform the theoretical and empirical results of the research into being a part of the educational studies at Copenhagen University. This will cause a new tradition of interaction between research and education to be established into the field (investigation) of alternative treatment.

Furthermore the following investigations have been performed:

  • The somatic and the psychological effects from Reiki healing.
  • Osteoarthritis has also been involved in the research. An article: "Rheumatic Disease and Complementary-Alternative Treatments: A Qualitative Study of Patient's Experiences", has been published in Journal of Clinical Rheumatology.