Ted J. Kaptchuk, OMD; David M. Eisenberg, MD
The first of two essays in this issue demonstrated that the United States has had a rich history of medical pluralism. This essay seeks to present an overview of contemporary unconventional medical practices in the United States. No clear definition of â€œalternative medicineâ€ is offered because it is a residual category composed of heterogeneous healing methods. A descriptive taxonomy of contemporary unconventional healing could be more helpful. Two broad categories of unconventional medicine are described here: a more prominent, â€œmainstreamâ€ complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and a more culture-bound, â€œparochialâ€ unconventional medicine. The CAM component can be divided into professional groups, layperson-initiated popular health reform movements, New Age healing, alternative psychological therapies, and non-normative scientific enterprises. The parochial category can be divided into ethno-medicine, religious healing, and folk medicine. A topologic examination of U.S. health care can provide an important conceptual framework through which health care providers can understand the current situation in U.S. medical pluralism.
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Kaptchuk TJ, Eisenberg DM. Varieties of Healing. 2: A Taxonomy of Unconventional Healing Practices. Ann Intern Med. 2001;135:196-204. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-135-3-200108070-00012
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2001;135(3):196-204.
Healthcare Delivery and Policy.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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