Research plays an essential role in advancing the field of Complementary and Integrative Healthcare (CIH). Research can enhance our understanding of natural therapies, the context in which they are used, and their impact on health and well-being. Results from meaningful research help clinicians, clients, policy makers and other stakeholders make informed decisions.
Specific disciplines of research interest at MUIH include yoga therapy, herbal medicine, health promotion, nutrition, health coaching, acupuncture and Oriental medicine. In addition, MUIH is dedicated to studying “healing presence”, best practices in teaching CIH, and the application of our practices to chronic pain.
The mission of the Research Department is to serve as a leader in diverse approaches to CIH scholarship through research publication, presentation and partnerships; as a respected trainer of future CIH researchers; and as a center for evidence-informed healthcare practice and training. For more information on current research and future projects, please contact .
Research Literacy in the Curriculum
MUIH’s University Learning Outcomes (ULO) articulate the common characteristics and essential learning outcomes that underlie all MUIH programs. These outcomes identify and define elements that all students will know and be able to demonstrate by the end of their program. They lay the framework for the curriculum, how students will demonstrate their learning, and how learning will be assessed. They also connect the curriculum to the skills and attributes sought by employers after students’ graduation.
The research literacy ULO declares that MUIH graduates are able to “access, evaluate, and apply the best available evidence to answer questions and inform decisions”. Research can sometimes seem like a foreign language, and the best way to become fluent in a new language is to use it. Research literacy is a necessary step toward evidence-informed practice, which allows clinicians and other health and wellness professionals to integrate best available evidence with expert opinion in their field and the preferences of the individual patient or client.
The foundational course offered by the Research Department is RSCH601 Introduction to Research Literacy, which is included in many MUIH Master’s degree programs and offers a broad view of diverse research approaches in CIH. Earlier courses help to prepare students for RSCH601, while later courses allow students to apply and integrate that literacy toward evidence-informed practice that will serve as a lifelong professional skill. Additionally, many programs include coursework in case reporting, which allows students to think critically about clinical cases and how they might contribute to the existing peer-reviewed literature. Doctoral students undertake small research projects as groups or individuals. All students also have access to co-curricular opportunities that enhance research literacy, such as Student Journal Club Student Research Group, and the annual MUIH Research Symposium.
Journal Club is an educational meeting where university faculty, staff, and students gather to discuss articles in the scientific literature. Journal Club is an opportunity to become more comfortable with reading and interpreting research articles and to explore a specific topic in the current literature. Many aspects of an article are discussed, including research design, the type of intervention, and the relevance of the research to current practice. Participating in Journal Club is an opportunity to hone research literacy skills, which can help students with the reading and assignments for their courses. It also helps participants to become more “evidence-informed” in their clinical or professional practice and discern when the evidence is strong enough to inform decision-making. Additionally, Journal Club provides an opportunity to learn about multiple CIH disciplines which can improve collaborative care and inter-professional communication.
MUIH offers bimonthly Student and Faculty Journal Clubs. The Student Club is open to all students, including those who attend classes on campus or online. A faculty member leads the discussion, which heavily emphasizes research literacy. Discussions in the Faculty Club include a deep analysis of the research and its application to current topics and emerging trends in health and wellness. Each Journal Club meeting is led by a faculty member who has chosen an article from the CIH literature to discuss. The article is shared in advance, along with a few questions to stimulate discussion. Attendees arrive at Journal Club having read the article and are able to submit questions in advance. The facilitator leads Journal Club participants through the highlights of the article, raises any interesting aspects, and responds to submitted questions.
Research Group is a collaborative meeting where students and faculty gather to discuss their research interests and activities. Participants have the opportunity to share progress on current research projects, ask questions or brainstorm research ideas, and learn from one another about research design and execution. MUIH offers bimonthly Student and Faculty Research Groups. Student Research Group is facilitated by an MUIH faculty member, who also brings a research topic for discussion by the group.
MUIH’s annual CIH Research Symposium highlights the University’s research and scholarship activities. It includes research posters presented in person or remotely by students and faculty, a keynote research presentation by a CIH professional of renown, and recognitions through the Faculty Excellence in Research and Scholarship Award and both student and faculty research posters.
Faculty Research and Scholarship
MUIH faculty regularly engage in a variety of research and scholarship. To view a representative list of recent research and scholarly works completed by MUIH faculty, click here.
Scientific Review Committee
The Scientific Review Committees (SRC) serve to evaluate the scientific rigor and institutional support available for proposed research projects. The SRC considers the fit between research objectives and study design, the study design feasibility and rigor, the expertise and skills of the study personnel, the feasibility of the project timeline and benchmarks, the potential for bias, the infrastructure and resource support necessary for the project, the legal and insurance implications, the fit with MUIH’s priorities and mission, and the funding and fiscal impact on the institution. Through this review the SRC provides feedback to the project’s principal investigator. Approval by the SRC is required prior to the submission of a research proposal to the MUIH Institutional Review Board (IRB) for projects involving human subjects.Institutional Review Board
MUIH’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) protects the rights and welfare of human subjects recruited for research conducted under its authority. Any research involving human subjects (whether funded or not) must be reviewed by the IRB before it begins. The IRB can approve, disapprove, monitor and require modifications for all research activities that fall within its jurisdiction, as specified by both federal and institutional policies. This group serves an important role through both advance and periodic review to assure that steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of human subjects. To do this, the IRB uses a group process to review research protocols and related materials (informed consent documents, survey questions, advertisements, safety data, etc.), including thorough discussion and consensus-building.
Responsibilities of the IRB include ensuring that the institution and investigators are compliant with ethical standards and regulations for human subjects research, and assisting investigators in designing ethical and compliant human subjects research studies. Common concerns and considerations of the IRB include assuring that:
- Risks to human subjects are minimized through sound research design that does not unnecessarily expose participants to risks, both known and unknown
- Risks are reasonable in relation to anticipated individual benefits (if any) and that knowledge is an expected result
- Recruitment and selection of human subjects is equitable and appropriate
- Human subjects are adequately informed of the potential risks and benefits associated with study participation, the procedures involved, and their rights as a participant
- Informed consent is obtained in advance of study participation
- The research plan includes appropriate monitoring of collected data to ensure safety of human subjects
- There are provisions to protect privacy and maintain confidentiality of research data
- Additional safeguards are in place to protect the rights and welfare of populations who may be vulnerable to coercion or undue influence (pregnant women, institutionalized persons, children, cognitively impaired persons, students and employees, minorities, economically and/or educationally disadvantaged, AIDS/HIV+ subjects, terminally ill subjects)
Professional and Continuing Education Research Courses
MUIH Professional and Continuing Education (PCE) promotes whole-person and community health and wellness through high-quality integrative health education for professionals to advance their skillsets, specialize their expertise and earn in-demand credentials. The following PCE offerings are ideal for aspiring and current integrative health researchers and scholars:
Communications and Collaborations in Healthcare
Communicating Scientific Evidence: Scientific Writing in Integrative Health
Evidence-Informed Practice and the Ancient Healing Arts
Professional Certificate in Evidence-Based Research and Informed Practice