Western Context Has Been Defining And Conceptualizing The Term Complementary And Alternative Medicine

1823 Words Sep 12th, 2016 8 Pages
A key challenge in the study of CAM in the western context has been defining and conceptualizing the term complementary and alternative medicine. A survey of existing literature on the subject reveals the term CAM has no uniform definition, contributing to the difficulty in understanding the socio-economic, political and cultural dynamic of health and medical practices captured in the term (Gerard Bodeker & Kronenberg, 2002; Coulter & Willis, 2004; Makhamreh, Harrington, Himonga, & Hundt, 2014; Spencer, 1999). For instance, the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the UK defines CAM as “ those treatments and health care practices not taught widely in medical schools, not generally used in hospitals, and not usually reimbursed by medical insurance companies” (Mackenzie & Rakel, 2006). Additionally, the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States, defines it as “healthcare practices that are not an integral part of conventional medicine …” (Coulter & Willis, 2004). Spencer (1999) goes a step further to define CAM as “the use and practice of therapies or diagnostics techniques that may not be part of current Western health care system, culture, or society”. The ambiguity in the defining and conceptualizing CAM, and the practical flaws in it use (Anyinam, 1990; Eisenberg et al., 1993; Spencer, 1999), have created different levels of application of the term in health and social science research. In some cases, the term is broadly applied to…

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