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J Med Libr Assoc. 2006 Jan;94(1):81-9.

Exploring the roles of librarians and health care professionals involved with complementary and alternative medicine.

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  • 1HealthInfo & Searching Practice Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.



The researcher conducted qualitative research about the role of health care professionals and librarians involved with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The goals were to identify resources these professionals use to explore the librarians' role as well as their approaches to teaching and searching with respect to CAM, to acquire information about CAM education, and to connect with other librarians in the CAM field.


Semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions were used.


Sixteen health care and information professionals from ten different institutions in Boston, Baltimore, and Calgary were interviewed. Major themes from the interviews were: CAM funding, integration of CAM and conventional medicine, roles of librarians, "hot" CAM issues, and information access. Information about four aspects of CAM education--technology, undergraduate, graduate, and continuing--is presented. A wealth of information resources was identified.


A CAM librarian's role is unique; many specialize in specific areas of CAM, and opportunities exist for librarians to partner with CAM groups. CAM information professionals' major roles involve information access and retrieval and education. Further study is required concerning CAM consumer health, integrative CAM and conventional medicine models, and the librarian's role in a CAM environment. CAM funding is a major concern.

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