Defining and describing complementary and alternative medicine

Bonnie B. O'Connor, Carlo Calabrese, Etzel Cardeña, David M Eisenberg, Judith Fincher, David J. Hufford, Wayne B. Jonas, Ted Kaptchuk, Steven C. Martin, Anne W. Scott, Xiaorui Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


The definition of complementary and alternative medicine has been much debated in recent years as this type of therapy has increasingly become a focus of public and academic attention. Individual authors typically stipulate a definition for purposes of their particular articles, and definitions have varied with the perspectives and affiliations of authors. The panel on definition and description of the 1995 Office of Alternative Medicine CAM Research Methodology Conference proposed a definition of the field of complementary and alternative medicine for use by the Office of Alternative Medicine in delineating its research jurisdiction. In addition, the panel suggested a set of descriptive parameters for qualitative research on complementary and alternative medicine and a minimum descriptive standard for both qualitative and quantitative research in the field. The results of the panel's deliberations and the justifications for their outcomes are discussed here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-57
Number of pages9
JournalAlternative therapies in health and medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1997


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