Social science theory and methods in the study of alternative and complementary medicine

J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Jan;1(1):19-40. doi: 10.1089/acm.1995.1.19.


Anthropology is a holistic science with theory, data, and methods that can be of great service to researchers on alternative medicine. In this paper useful models and methodologic stances were identified that can help researchers to deal creatively with the stresses imposed on science by worldview preferences that differ among both scientists and healthcare systems. I have argued that rather than prefer one paradigm over another, researchers should select techniques based on a rationale featuring deep knowledge of the context of the healthcare issue they want to study. This will not only produce the most accurate and useful data, but should also help free science of its current strictures and allow expansion into a wider conversation about human and medical realities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Complementary Therapies / standards*
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Holistic Health*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Philosophy, Medical
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design / standards*
  • Social Sciences*