The Role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Accommodating Pluralism

Daniel Callahan, Editor

"Although many books are available about CAM, this books makes its mark because it explores the relationship between CAM and conventional medicine."
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At the center of the debate over complementary and alternative medicine—from acupuncture and chiropractic treatments to homeopathy and nutritional supplements—is how to scientifically measure the effectiveness of a particular treatment. Fourteen scholars from the fields of medicine, philosophy, sociology, and cultural and folklore studies examine that debate, and the clash between growing public support and the often hostile stance of clinicians and medical researchers.

Proponents and critics have different methodologies and standards of evidence—raising the question of how much pluralism is acceptable in a medical context—particularly in light of differing worldviews and the struggle to define medicine in the modern world. The contributors address both the methodological problems of assessment and the conflicting cultural perspectives at work in a patient's choice of treatment. Sympathetic to CAM, the contributors nonetheless offer careful critiques of its claims, and suggest a variety of ways it can be taken seriously, yet subject to careful scrutiny.

Table of Contents

Daniel Callahan

Assessments of Efficacy in Biomedicine: The Turn toward Methodological Pluralism
Kenneth F. Shaffner

CAM and Cultural Diversity: Ethics and Epistemology Converge
David J. Hufford

The Role of Science in Assessing Conventional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines
Loretta M. Kopelman

Personal Experience, Popular Epistemology, and Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research
Bonnie B. O'Connor

The Placebo Effect: Implications for the Study and Practice of Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Howard Brody

Spirituality in Clinical Care: A Brief Review of Patient Desire, Physician Response, and Research Opportunities
David B. Larson and Susan B. Larson

Interpreting Results from Randomized Clinical Trials of Complementary/Alternative Interventions: The Role of Trial Quality and Pre-trial Beliefs
Asbjorn Hrobjartsson and Stig Brorson

Evidence, Ethics, and the Evaluation of Global Medicine
Wayne B. Jonas

The Nature of Evidence in Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Ideas from Trials of Homeopathy in Chronic Headache
Tom Whitmarsh

Medical Culture and CAM Culture: Science and Ritual in the Academic Medical Center
Paul Root Wolpe

The Quest for Holism in Medicine
Alfred I. Tauber




"Highly recommend[ed] . . . as a resource for all researchers and investigators, academics and scholars, and students both favorable or opposed to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This thought-provoking and exciting book is unparalleled in the field. It offers food for intellectual thought and meets the need for elucidating critical yet balanced discourse on the meaning and therapeutic values and efficacy of CAM."—Doody's Review Service

"Although many books are available about CAM, this books makes its mark because it explores the relationship between CAM and conventional medicine."—The Annals of Pharmacotherapy

"This is a small but meaty and provocative book. It gives the reader an overview of the various arguments for and against what has become known as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). In addition to its balanced presentation, it points the way to possible future validation of CAM and dialogue concerning it. This is a hot and timely subject treated with scholarly seriousness and intensity."—Health Progress


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Daniel Callahan is director of international programs at The Hastings Center and senior fellow at the Harvard Medical School. His many books include False Hopes and The Troubled Dream of Life: In Search of a Peaceful Death.

224 pp., 6 x 9

Dec 2001

224 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-58901-016-1
Dec 2001

224 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-464-0
Dec 2001

Hastings Center Studies in Ethics series
Gregory E. Kaebnick and Daniel Callahan, Series Editors

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