Despite the increasing popularity of treatments like acupuncture, reflexology and osteopathy, the evidence as to whether and how they work is scarce, leaving the practices open to criticism.
But lack of agreement on the best methods to test the efficacy and effectiveness of complementary therapies has proved an obstacle to addressing this problem.
The report hopes to establish a consensus on the ways in which research might be conducted that both the conventional and complementary healthcare communities can support.
Niall Dickson, The King's Fund chief executive, said: ‘Where complementary therapies are offered as part of the NHS it is imperative that those responsible for spending public money base their decisions on sound evidence. We need to understand more about the costs and benefits.
‘Doctors and patients need robust evidence to make informed decisions — more research will play a vital role in showing what works and what does not, what is cost effective and what is not.'
- Do you back research into the clinical and cost effectiveness of complementary therapies?
More news from 12 July