Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Part of the series Biomedical Ethics Reviews pp 77-119

Advising Patients and Communicating About Complementary and Alternative Medicine

  • Arti PrasadAffiliated withSection of Integrative Medicine, University of New Mexico’s (UNM) Health Science Center
  • , Mariebeth B. VelásquezAffiliated withUniversity of Washington

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Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a broad domain of resources that encompasses health systems, modalities, and practices and their accompanying theories and beliefs, other than those intrinsic to the dominant health system of a particular society or culture in a given historical period (2). Other terms sometimes used to describe these health care practices include natural medicine, nonconventional medicine, and holistic medicine (3). The widespread use of CAM therapies has been steadily increasing over the past few decades, yet there are few clear guidelines on how physicians should be advising patients about their use.