Boston Medical Center Program in Integrative Medicine

Robert Saper, MD MPH
Telephone: (617) 414-6795


The Program for Integrative Medicine and Health Care Disparities is located in the heart of Boston at Boston Medical Center (BMC), the largest safety-net hospital in New England.

The program includes a collaboration of clinical services, research and medical education. The core purpose is to pioneer a widely accessible, multicultural, cross-disciplinary, national model of integrative health for all patients through clinical services, education, research and advocacy.

The program was founded in 2004 and operates under the BMC mission of providing “Exceptional Care, Without Exception” to all those who seek services regardless of ability to pay. In particular, the program was founded under the conviction that safe and effective integrative therapies should be available to all.

The programs clinical services and research excel in blending conventional medicine, complementary therapies, and lifestyle change programs to create an experience that is tailored to the patient population. Four core values are integral to this work: (1) Access to integrative care is a right, not a privilege; (2) Patient-centered care – Patients are unique multi-faceted whole persons living in the context of families and communities; (3) Therapeutic relationships between clinicians and patients can be a powerful healing force, empowering patients to take increased responsibility for living healthy lives; and (4) Rigorous evidence-based scientific research of patient-oriented, and economic outcomes is critical to advance the integrative health field.

Approximately 350 patients visit the Program for Integrative Medicine each month for clinical services. Many others utilize the additional educational services such as qigong/tai chi, exercise classes, cooking demonstrations, and Buteyko Breathing Method.

The following are examples of the clinical services and programs offered:

  • Integrative Medicine Consults are offered within the center to allow physicians to work with patients to develop a plan that incorporates both complementary and conventional medicine, taking into account current health status.
  • Acupuncture is a service that is offered to patients at a reduced cost and has been shown helpful for many conditions, including addiction, pain and nausea.
  • Massage is offered to patients at a reduced cost for pain relief, rehabilitation after sports injuries, reducing stress, increasing relaxation and addressing anxiety and depression.

The following are examples of other programs and classes offered:

  • Yoga classes for beginners are offered to patients and staff twice a week. These classes target underserved BMC patients who may not have the means to pay high fees for a typical yoga class in Boston. Made possible by generous donations, participants can choose to pay between $5 and $25 for a class, though participants are never turned away due to an inability to pay.
  • Cooking for Health is a free class offered in our Teaching Demonstration Kitchen that allows patients and staff to learn new ways of cooking healthy meals on a budget. In addition, diabetic cooking classes are also offered twice a month.
  • Qigong is a mind/body practice that works to harmonize the body, breath, mind, energy and spirit through various forms of meditation in order to promote better health. Free classes are offered to patients weekly. 
  • Buteyko Breathing Method is offered to patients by appointment. The Buteyko Breathing Method is a breath retraining technique for conditions such as asthma, allergies, sleep apnea, panic attacks, emphysema, and other stress-related diseases.