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The Healing GodsComplementary and Alternative Medicine in Christian America$
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Candy Brown

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199985784

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199985784.001.0001

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Does CAM Work, and Is It Safe?

Does CAM Work, and Is It Safe?

Chapter:
(p.112) 5 Does CAM Work, and Is It Safe?
Source:
The Healing Gods
Author(s):

Candy Gunther Brown

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199985784.003.0006

Chapter five argues that CAM lacks scientific evidence of effectiveness and safety. Interest in evidence-based medicine decreased concern about plausible mechanisms as long as effects are exhibited. Although a large volume of studies report benefits, meta-analyses in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews find insufficient evidence to support most CAM due to poor-quality studies, publication bias, citation bias, and paucity of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with replication of results; psychological, spiritual, and physical risks, including death, have been reported. Evidence does support physical exercise, eating whole-food, plant-based vegetarian and vegan diets, and certain nutritional supplements, all of which can be used without internalizing a metaphysical worldview; massage and chiropractic may relieve back pain. By a halo effect, even slim evidence for any one approach labeled CAM implies that all CAM works. Patients pursuing health may not use rational choice, but sample sub-optimal market offerings, behavior that psychologists call matching law.

Keywords:   evidence-based medicine, scientific evidence, cochrane database of systematic reviews, effectiveness, safety, halo effect, matching law, rational choice, publication bias, citation bias

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