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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Patricia Blagman, EdD, RN (Pace University)
Description: This book is a brief description of complementary/alternative therapies as defined by the National Institutes of Health. A comprehensive collection of therapies is described, and suggestions for use of each are given.
Purpose: The purpose is to increase understanding of a wide range of therapies, which is a worthy objective. I believe the descriptions are too brief, and the lack of any research studies prevents depth of knowledge.
Audience: The editor states the book could be used as a "quick and easy" reference for a "vast audience" and for all healthcare providers. I believe it is best for the lay public; healthcare professionals need more depth. I suspect nurses are an intended audience as reference is made to what nurses can do.
Features: A section of resources at the end of the book is helpful. A section on several branches of folk medicine (Amish, Cajun, African American, etc.) is one distinguishing aspect that is often omitted in works of this kind. The lack of research on these therapies is a grave shortcoming if the book is to be useful to healthcare professionals.
Assessment: This book is as inclusive of therapies, but not nearly as thorough in describing them as Clark's Encyclopedia of Complementary Health Practice (Springer Publishing Company, 1999) or Graham's excellent Complementary Therapies in Context: The Psychology of Healing (Jessica Kingsley, 1998). It would probably be most helpful for a lay reader. It does not offer anything new.