Contextualizing integration: a critical social science approach to integrative health care

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2009 Nov-Dec;32(9):792-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2009.10.006.


This article argues for the importance of examining the phenomenon of integrative health care in broader social and historical contexts. The authors examine mainstream approaches to identify patterns of integrative medicine and criticize them for their neglect of clashes among different philosophical paradigms and the wider social contexts that govern health care in practice. The authors outline a framework and highlight the values of a critical social science perspective in deepening our understanding of recent transformations in health care practice and issues surrounding biomedicine and complementary/alternative medicine (including chiropractic, naturopathy, massage, acupuncture/oriental medicine, etc) and traditional medicine. A critical social science perspective pays special attention to complex power relations, inclusionary/exclusionary strategies, and interprofessional dynamics in medicine. Drawing upon recent research findings, the authors illustrate how such a perspective reveals the intricacies and tensions that surround the integration of different paradigms of health care practice. The authors summarize the importance of situating integrative health care in structural contexts and affirm their commitment to a critical social science approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Complementary Therapies / organization & administration
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Social Sciences*