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From The CriticsReviewer: Becket Gremmels, BA (Saint Louis University)
Description: This historical overview of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) covers a variety of related ethical topics from different perspectives.
Purpose: The main goal is to help patients, physicians, healthcare systems, and policymakers deal with ethical issues surrounding CAM within the context of the physician-patient relationship. Given the rise in CAM use in recent years and the significant number of patients who withhold details of their CAM therapy from their physicians, such a book is increasingly necessary for physicians and medical educators. With the help of this book, physicians can begin to grapple with the ethical dilemmas posed by a patient seeking interventions that are outside the scope of traditional medicine. In 1997, more visits were made to CAM practitioners than primary care physicians, meaning policymakers and healthcare systems will also need to confront this trend.
Audience: This book is written for patients, physicians, administrators, and policymakers who want to learn more about the ethical implications of CAM. It would also interest anyone concerned with the ethical problems pertaining to healthcare reform and uninsured or out of pocket healthcare expenses. The contributors seem to be well versed in their particular areas of expertise, and the chapters form a unique, coherent whole.
Features: Topics include legal issues in CAM, advice for patients and physicians when discussing CAM with each other, and ethical concerns in CAM research. The latter incorporates a principlism-based ethical framework to aid in study design for CAM research. The book is open to CAM use and encourages its research, but it is clearly written from the perspective of Western medicine, which is the intended audience. However, the most fruitful discussions of ethical dilemmas include all primary stakeholders, and including CAM practitioners as contributors would make for a more rounded discussion.
Assessment: Nevertheless, the book makes an excellent contribution to an upcoming and important field of study. As the use of CAM grows in the coming years, books like this will play a crucial role in helping traditional and alternative forms of medicine work together.