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Forsch Komplementmed. 2007 Dec;14 Suppl 2:2-9. doi: 10.1159/0000112202. Epub 2008 Jan 7.

Complementary medicine: equity issues in evaluation and policy-making.

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Institute for Complementary Medicine KIKOM, University of Bern, Switzerland.


The increasing use and practice of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) all over the world raises important ethical issues for health care providers, researchers and policy-makers. This article addresses the equity issues arising in the context of an evaluation of five complementary therapies provided by general practitioners: homeopathy, anthroposophic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, neural therapy and phytotherapy. The evaluation was commissioned by the Swiss government in order to provide scientific data to make a policy decision about including these disciplines in basic insurance coverage, if provided by physicians. Both the research process and the related health policy raise a number of equity issues that are explored and further discussed on the basis of Daniels' and Sabin's criteria for fair decision-making as defined in their 'accountability for reasonableness' approach. Combining the lessons learnt from the case study with current approaches to fairness in decision-making and priority-setting, propositions are made in order to increase awareness for transparency and fairness in CAM-related evaluations and policy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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