What are doctors’ views of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and has this changed since 1970 until the present, 2009?
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Health Sciences
There are notable differences between the dominant Western medical model of health and the model of CAM, and looking at these differences may provide a greater understanding around doctors’ views towards CAM and its place in the wider health system. The purpose of this dissertation is to provide a systematic literature review into how doctors view complementary and alternative medicine, and to see if this has changed since the 1970s through to 2009. A systematic review of the literature was conducted, mainly using online original research Journal articles from medical databases. The internet was the main tool used in locating data, and literature was included or excluded based on relevance. This was evaluated on the relevance of time period, such as 1970, subject, such as chiropractic, or theme, such as attitudes of doctors to CAM.
Literature from the 1970s was scarce on this research question, but this review noted a significant increase in literature on this topic since the 1990s, identifying this research area as a relatively new field of study, with much potential for further exploration into beliefs and attitudes of doctors towards CAM. Scientific research papers that were published highlighted a strong emphasis towards doctors’ requirement for further scientific research on the efficacy of CAM. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were the preferred method of testing; however this review also discusses appropriate methodology to test both CAM and doctors’ views and beliefs.
The difference between the Western medical model and the CAM model highlights the differences between both concepts; from which this author provides a possible interpretation of doctors’ indifferent views towards CAM using the psychological theory of cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957). This theory suggests that a person cannot hold two conflicting beliefs simultaneously, without the presence of cognitive ‘dissonance.’ “The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance” (Festinger, 3: 1957). This systematic review then provides a discussion around how this could explain doctors’ views towards CAM. . This then leads to the question of whether ‘successful integration of Western medicine and CAM is therefore possible’? The systematic review concludes with the highlighting of important issues in regard to the study design and methodology on effectively testing CAM, and on effectively testing doctors’ beliefs: also, the issues around integration and further scientific literature on CAM in a bid to potentially reduce the ‘moderate tone of answering’ that is reported in the literature in regard to doctors’ views towards CAM.