Explaining the Growth of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Published in: Health Sociology Review, v. 16, No. 3-4, October 2007, p. 214-225

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2006

by Ian D. Coulter, Evan Willis

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In this analytic review, the authors consider the boom in demand for the services of practitioners of modalities of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The evidence for the increase in demand for these services is reviewed and explanations for this phenomenon considered and evaluated. Two particular explanations are considered: the postmodern thesis and the gendered spirituality thesis, as well as more general changes in society. Finally the paper considers the role of the social sciences in the legitimation and increasing use of CAM. The paper concludes that the trend is likely to continue, as will the role of social scientists in observing and documenting CAM.

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