Role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Accommodating Pluralism

Overview

Amid the tremendous technological advances in western medicine, increasing numbers of patients pursue complementary or alternative medical therapies. From acupuncture and chiropractic treatment to homeopathy and nutritional supplements, "CAM" therapies are widely accepted by much of the public but frowned upon by most physicians and researchers practicing orthodox medicine. In The Role of Complementary & Alternative Medicine, fourteen scholars from the fields of medicine, philosophy, sociology, and cultural ...
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Overview

Amid the tremendous technological advances in western medicine, increasing numbers of patients pursue complementary or alternative medical therapies. From acupuncture and chiropractic treatment to homeopathy and nutritional supplements, "CAM" therapies are widely accepted by much of the public but frowned upon by most physicians and researchers practicing orthodox medicine. In The Role of Complementary & Alternative Medicine, fourteen scholars from the fields of medicine, philosophy, sociology, and cultural and folklore studies examine the clash between growing public support and the hostility of clinicians and medical researchers.

At the center of the debate over complementary and alternative medicine is how to measure scientifically the effectiveness of a particular treatment. Proponents and critics have different methodologies and standards of evidence, thus raising the question of how much pluralism is acceptable in a medical context. Implicit in the debate is a deep conflict over differing worldviews and a struggle to define medicine in the modern age. The contributors' essays fall into two major categories: those addressing the methodological problems of assessment and those focusing on the differing cultural perspectives at work in a patient's choice of treatment. While all the contributors are sympathetic to CAM, they offer careful critiques of its claims. They suggest a variety of ways that it can both be taken seriously and subjected to careful scrutiny.

Written for medical practitioners and researchers and scholars of medical issues, this book offers a rigorous yet balanced evaluation of the meaning and value of alternative therapies.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Martha J. Greenberg, PhD, RN (Pace University)
Description: This is a compilation of critical essays that address methodological problems of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) assessment and cultural perspectives of CAM treatments.
Purpose: The editor's main goal is to present an objective discussion of research and cultural issues in CAM from multidisciplinary perspectives, e.g., medicine, philosophy, sociology. Accordingly the essays address scientific measurement of CAM efficacy and debate the acceptance (or lack of) research pluralism in medical research.
Audience: I highly recommend this book as a resource for all researchers and investigators, academics and scholars, and students both favorable or opposed to CAM. It could become an essential book in graduate research methodology. Renowned ethicist Daniel Callahan has gathered an impressive team of contributors from philosophy, cultural and folklore studies, and sociology.
Features: The contributors discuss ethics and epistemology, scientific evaluation of CAM, and the patient experience of CAM. Much of the book debates the issue of evidence in CAM and the ways science asks questions. Discussion is presented in a scholarly and intellectually stimulating yet pragmatic way as to make the book infinitely readable and relevant to investigators, clinicians, and scholars.
Assessment: This thought provoking and exciting book is unparalleled in the field and I highly recommend it. It offers food for intellectual thought and meets the need for elucidating critical yet balanced discourse on the meaning and therapeutic values and efficacy of CAM.
From The Critics
There is an inverse relationship between consumers' acceptance of complementary and alternative medicine and the orthodox scientific community's resistance to this quest for holism in global medicine. This compilation of 11 essays by multidisciplinary contributors provides a balanced view of paradigmic, methodological, and cultural issues introduced by Callahan (Harvard Medical School): Is there only one valid method of scientific evaluation? What criteria for evidence are acceptable for alternative and complementary therapies? What is the role of spirituality in health? Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

5 Stars! from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780878408771
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1902
  • Series: Hastings Center Studies in Ethics
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
Assessments of Efficacy in Biomedicine: The Turn toward Methodological Pluralism 1
CAM and Cultural Diversity: Ethics and Epistemology Converge 15
The Role of Science in Assessing Conventional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines 36
Personal Experience, Popular Epistemology, and Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research 54
The Placebo Effect: Implications for the Study and Practice of Complementary and Alternative Medicine 74
Spirituality in Clinical Care: A Brief Review of Patient Desire, Physician Response, and Research Opportunities 84
Interpreting Results from Randomized Clinical Trials of Complementary/Alternative Interventions: The Role of Trial Quality and Pre-trial Beliefs 107
Evidence, Ethics, and the Evaluation of Global Medicine 122
The Nature of Evidence in Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Ideas from Trials of Homeopathy in Chronic Headache 148
Medical Culture and CAM Culture: Science and Ritual in the Academic Medical Center 163
The Quest for Holism in Medicine 172
Contributors 190
Index 196
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