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J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Jun;9(3):441-5.

Complementary and alternative medicine in mainstream public health: a role for research in fostering integration.

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Department of Clinical Research and Integrative Medicine Program, Moody Health Center, Texas Chiropractic College, Pasadena, TX 77505, USA.


In light of the increased utilization of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in recent years, there is an increased possibility that CAM approaches could prove to be important factors in public health, particularly if used within an integrative framework together with mainstream medicine. There exists a defined need for research to explore the integration of conventional health care and CAM approaches, as well as define mechanisms of CAM-based therapies to facilitate such integration. Essential to these goals is the accumulation of a database derived from outcomes-based clinical and basic science investigations. We posit that that CAM clinicians need to be more thoroughly trained as researchers, skilled in developing and recording results of pragmatic studies that could provide credible evidence for the use of CAM in the public sector health care. It is proposed that this may be best achieved through a three-tiered system in which (1) clinician-scientists of both mainstream and alternative disciplines recognize the value of research designed to foster such integration; (2) educational and health care institutions must develop academic and clinical training programs that examine and delineate each disciplines' respective strengths and weaknesses; and (3) such programs are attractive to, and receive continued extramural subsidy. In the broadest sense, such a paradigmatic approach to CAM integration could create a common basis for scientific dialogue, encourage exchanges between medical communities, and establish policies for the development of a true multidisciplinary health care cooperative that is consistent with the current public health model.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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