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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?

(p.112) 5 Does CAM Work, and Is It Safe?
The Healing Gods

Candy Gunther Brown

Oxford University Press

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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