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Complementary, Traditional, and Alternative Medicine

Getting Started

Image depicting an acupuncture model, plants with elements being derived from them, and people doing yoga. This is meant to display the various forms CAM takes.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) or Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM)  is a subject that can be hard to research due to the fact that finding consistent definitions of the terminology, evidence-based research on the methods, and research pertaining to underrepresented groups and cultural approaches to medicine can be difficult.

"Traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) is an important and often underestimated health resource with many applications, especially in the prevention and management of lifestyle-related chronic diseases, and in meeting the health needs of ageing populations. Many countries are seeking to expand coverage of essential health services at a time when consumer expectations for care are rising, costs are soaring, and most budgets are either stagnant or being reduced." WHO Global Report on Traditional and Complementary Medicine 2019

Very tellingly the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) says it is hard to define CAM but that it is "a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine." The fact that these approaches are many times not seen as part of "conventional medicine" and the fact that cultural awareness and humility can oftentimes be left out of medical literature make researching in this field even more complex.


Preconceived Notions

It is important to consistently check your own biases and your own preferences for reading one source over another. If you are looking for information that merely supports what you think is or should be the case or aren't checking your own search biases then you are committing confirmation bias.

The Pew Research Center has done research on news audiences and has rated news sources by the ideological leanings of their followers. A chart of this information can be viewed at: Ideological Placement of Each Source’s Audience.


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Ingrid Hendrix
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This guide was created by a Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center staff member and is licensed by the Health Science Library and Informatics Center of the University of New Mexico under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.