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TALKBACK


Kath Hudson • Journalist • Health Club Management EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT . . .


Research databases T


he spa industry pulled off quite an achievement when it created its research


The spa industry launched a research portal


portal – www.spaevidence. com. The site re-badged four selected medical research engines under the spaevidence banner, creating one site that gives access to thousands of clinical studies into 21 of the most common spa and wellness modalities. This was the fi rst time much of this


in 2011, making scientific research to support its practices easily accessible. Should the health and fitness industry follow suit?


research was made available to the public. Users can decide on the depth they want to go into, either reading the full research document, or a summary of fi ve research documents per therapy. When the site was unveiled at the


2011 Global Spa Summit, its creators – Susie Ellis, Dr Kenneth Pelletier, Dr


Daniel Friedland, Dr Marc Cohen and web developer Self Optima – were given a standing ovation. Much of the audience was in tears, as they felt their work had fi nally been given credence. So should the fi tness sector follow


the lead of the spa industry? There’s certainly no shortage of research. If we did manage to create a research portal, might this be enough to persuade GPs to prescribe exercise to patients on a wider scale? Could this be the tool


SHOULD THE FITNESS SECTOR CREATE A RESEARCH DATABASE? EMAIL US: HEALTHCLUB@LEISUREMEDIA.COM


SUSIE ELLIS Global Spa and Wellness Summit • Chair


“I


think the health and fitness industry should definitely follow the lead


of the spa industry in creating a portal. We saw a need to communicate all of the evidenced-based research to consumers, the industry, the media and medical professionals. In doing so, we’ve given credence to the people working in the industry. There have been many studies done, but finding them was


not easy. Although it initially seemed like an insurmountable challenge, once we found the databases and worked out that we could pre-populate the searches on the site, we had overcome all of the major challenges. We selected PubMed because it’s readily available, Cochrane because it has a lot of credibility with doctors, TRIP because it’s user-friendly and Natural Standard because it had already curated a lot of information. This is the only database we pay an annual fee to use; the rest were happy to get the extra traffic to their sites. Global Spa and Wellness Summit funded the portal, which


cost around US$50,000 to set up: the figure would have been higher if the doctors hadn’t given their time for free. The portal now costs about US$10,000 a year to run. The way it has been set up means it gets regularly updated, as the databases are updated, so it’s simple to govern.





DR DANIEL FRIEDLAND SuperSmartHealth • CEO & president


“T


he health and fitness industry should follow our lead. The


main aim of spaevidence.com is to help anchor the spa industry with a scientific foundation. The portal highlights science- based wellness choices and reinforces the efforts already being made by spa professionals to bring wellness to people. There’s more work to be done – making the portal more


accessible, for example, and continuing to educate not only practitioners but also health-seekers among the general public to leverage the evidence – but it’s a great first step. Whereas the spa industry has multiple modalities to deal


with, the health and fitness industry has a narrower scope. However, there’s so much research about exercise that to try and present it all would be almost impossible. The fitness industry would need to frame the key questions that the health- seeker might ask if they wanted to engage in a healthy regime. It would then need to look for the key databases and find a cost-effective way to collate, digest and present the evidence and keep the database updated. I fully advocate the health and fitness sector doing this. It would create transparency, giving wellness empowerment to the health-seeker and a powerful tool set to maintain their optimal health.


” 28 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital June 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


to persuade the sedentary population to take action? Were such a project to go


ahead, there would be several practical issues to address. Pulling it all together would be a lot of work: who would do this and who might fund it – might it be a candidate for


crowd-funding? And who would govern it on an ongoing basis? If it’s an industry project, will the public


view it suspiciously – will it only work if the healthcare industry, or government, also has a role in its creation? And if such a website were set up


and proved successful, attracting new interest in fi tness among the public, would we be ready with the support people might need to change their lifestyles? We ask the experts.....


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