Complementary therapy systems and their integrative evaluation

Explore (NY). May-Jun 2011;7(3):175-87. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2011.02.001.

Abstract

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is becoming an integral part of modern medicine. Complementary and alternative medicine therapy systems include natural medicinal products, nonpharmacological treatments, and counselling on health and lifestyle issues. Complementary and alternative medicine concepts are often elaborate, transcending biophysical models and employing the principles of salutogenesis. Evaluations of CAM therapy systems need to be integrative and cover the dimensions of: (1) therapeutic professionalism; (2) patient perspective and public demand; (3) conceptuality; (4) safety, effectiveness, and costs. Complex research strategies are required, which reverse the phases of conventional drug assessment. The predominant use of randomized trials would introduce structural bias and create an artificial picture. Important are evaluations of the whole system in real-world conditions, and surveys on component evaluations. Systemic CAM assessments should consist of a broad array of high-quality research methods: well-conducted randomized and nonrandomized studies, cohort studies, qualitative research, high-quality case reports and case series, studies on patient perspective, safety analyses, economic analyses, etc. Good clinical judgement, a core epistemic element of medicine based on nonstochastic principles, should also be integrated and could reflect routine patient care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / methods
  • Biomedical Research / standards*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / standards*
  • Complementary Therapies / standards*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Integrative Medicine