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What is the common definition of CAM

That which is outside of conventional medicine


If the therapy is used in addition to conventional medicine, then it is a

Complementary therapy


If a therapy is used outside conventional medicine then it is

alternative medicine


Name four highlights of the population of people who use CAM therapy

12.4% of the population used a CAM therapist in the previous year. By contrast 78% of the population reporting seeing a family physician.

The most common types used by individuals who had reported visiting a CAM practitioner were: massage therapy (62.9%), acupuncture (18.3%), homeopathy (18.2%), chiropractic care (11.3%), herbalists (5.2%), reflexology (2.4%), and spiritual healing (1.0%).

Use of CAM was twice as common among women than men.

Use increased with household income, education, and residence in a western province.


The USA and UK report

higher uses of CAM therapies


Define the philosophical attraction to energies and forces

an inherent life force is a simple and appealing concept in contrast to complex medical science.


Define the philosophical attraction of self-healing

properties of one’s body, mind, or spirit are capable of combating both chronic and acute disease and illness.


Holistic (wholistic)

treatment of the entire patient including the mind, body, and spirit


Unifying hypothesis of disease:

proponents of some types of CAM advocate a universal theory concerning the cause of human disease. For practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, it is an imbalance of the yin and yang; for many chiropractors, diseases can be traced to spinal misalignment; and naturopaths often claim that disease is caused by a buildup of toxins.



natural is an appealing basis advocated for alternative therapies; however, “natural” does not equate with “safe.” Snake venom is natural yet deadly; poison oak and poison ivy contain natural substances that cause severe dermatitis; many natural minerals from metals (lead, mercury) are toxic; a large number of carcinogens are naturally present in plants


What are some of the philosophical attractions to CAM therapies that people choose them?

self-healing, energies and forces, holistic, natural, traditional, exotic, individual attention, hope and belief in treatment, control and non-toxic



many therapies are appealing because they have been used for hundreds of years. This approach contrasts with conventional medicine, which discards past practices in favour of recent advances. For example, routine blood letting and applying leeches, two practices used in conventional medicine for centuries, were discontinued upon evidence demonstrating harmful effects.



the attraction of something exotic could be summarized as follows: “Magic is more enthralling than the mundane, hope is better than reality, and there is a deep need in all human beings—particularly those afflicted with terrible disease—to seek miracles”


Individual Attention

CAM practitioners purportedly are more attentive to their patients. As Barrocas (1997) explained, “Whether real or perceived, the failure of conventional practitioners to understand and practice preventive medicine and to communicate effectively and efficiently with patients and the public at large, has fuelled the flames of disappointment in traditional medicine.” The time, personal involvement, empathy, and acceptance imparted by the practitioner help the patient feel important and valued.


Little Guy takes on the bully

persecution by the authorities is perceived by believers as a badge of credibility


Hope and belief in treatment

the ethics and training of practitioners of conventional medicine require them to inform patients about their conditions. This obligation to be honest and to share the risks and benefits of treatments might be interpreted as a lack of faith in the treatment. Some patients may equate a loss of hope for cure as a loss of hope for care. In contrast, CAM practitioners typically are much more optimistic in their prognosis.



conventional medicine historically has taken a paternalistic approach to patient care but now is involving the patient more as an active participant in care. Buckman and Sabbagh (1993) suggested that patients’ control is one reason that CAM therapies remain popular.


Non toxic

the perception of CAM therapies as being non-toxic is attractive. The difference in approach of conventional medicine and CAM is embodied in such terminology as “painkillers” and “anti-inflammatory,” compared to “restore balance” and “enhance”


What are the common characteristics seen between CAM therapies

integration of individuals into the stream of life; importance to health of religious and spiritual values; attribution of a causal, independent role to the various manifestations of consciousness; maintaining the Hippocratic injunction of first do no harm; and use of whole substances.


What are some of the factors which affect someone's decision to turn to CAM therapies?

dissatisfaction with conventional medicine; belief in CAM therapies; and exploration of treatment options


Name five reasons why patients may turn to CAM therapies

They seek health promotion and disease prevention.

Conventional therapies have been exhausted. No conventional therapy is known to relieve the patient’s condition. The patient therefore feels he or she has nothing to lose.

Conventional therapies are of indeterminate value or are associated with side effects and significant risk.

The conventional approach is perceived to be emotionally or spiritually without benefit.

Many people choose a health practitioner based on word of mouth and previous experience.


How ca harm from CAM therapies occur?

This can occur directly, for example, as a side effect from a herbal treatment, or indirectly by causing the person to avoid conventional medical treatment that is of value.


How many people die of iatrogenic causes?
What are the reasons for these deaths?

225,000 (this would make it the third leading cause of death in the US)
nosocomial infections and medication reactions


What is a driving motivation of CAM therapists?

monetary value. They have spent a large number of years practicing to become a therapist and spent a lot of money. They are motivated to earn a good income.

They may also have a sincere belief in their treatment methods


In which of the following groups is the use of alternative medical therapies the greatest?

patients with musculo-skeletal problems


What is the unifying hypothesis of disease?

The unifying hypothesis of disease refers to the concept advocated by practitioners of some types of alternative therapies that all disease is explained by one basic cause. For example, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine claim that an imbalance in the yin and yang is the root cause of disease.


Why are alternative therapies often portrayed as being natural? Explain some of the drawbacks to this depiction.

The “natural” basis advocated for alternative therapies is attractive. For many people this appeals to their personal world view. But natural does not equate with being safe. Many natural substances are toxic. Examples are tobacco, cocaine, heroin, and poison ivy