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June 11, 2008

Quality of Efficacy Research in Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Division of Developmental Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

JAMA. 2008;299(22):2685-2686. doi:10.1001/jama.299.22.2685

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has received increased attention in mainstream medicine since a 1993 study demonstrated that one-third of US adults used some form of “unconventional medicine.”1 By 2002, the prevalence of CAM use by adults had increased to 62% to 68%,2,3 and it has become clear that users of CAM are not primarily dissatisfied with conventional care, but have a more holistic approach to health4 or simply appreciate multiple treatment options.5 What was once identified as “alternative medicine” has become “complementary,” “holistic,” and “integrative”; indeed, CAM therapies, such as probiotics, melatonin, massage, yoga, and acupuncture, have become part of the conventional medicine armamentarium, and the demarcation between CAM and mainstream medicine continues to shift.