An integral approach to medicine

Altern Ther Health Med. Mar-Apr 2002;8(2):70-5.


In this article we suggest that despite decades of compelling research in suchfields as behavioral medicine and mind-body medicine, a more integral, less fragmented approach is still needed. We argue that one of the obstacles to realizing a more holistic-oriented medicine (ie, biopsychosociocultural) has been the lack of a comprehensive conceptual framework. We therefore propose the application in medicine of modern-day philosopher Ken Wilber's 4-quadrant model, which interfaces the dimensions of interior and exterior with those of the individual and collective. The article suggests that Wilber's framework offers a simple yet elegant heuristic tool for conceptualizing health and illness, investigating the efficacy of different treatment modalities, exploring the multifactorial nature of disease, and informing both research methodology and medical education. We further argue that this model has relevance for both the complementary and alternative as well as conventional medical fields, offering researchers, clinicians, and educators a way to clarify and operationalize otherwise vague concepts such as "holistic" and "integrative."

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Holistic Health*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*