Challenges of Systematic Reviewing Integrative Health Care

Published In: Integrative Medicine Insights, v. 8, 2013, p. 19-28

by Ian D. Coulter, Raheleh Khorsan, Cindy C. Crawford, An-Fu Hsiao

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This article is based on an extensive review of integrative medicine (IM) and integrative health care (IHC). Since there is no general agreement of what constitutes IM/IHC, several major problems were identified that make the review of work in this field problematic. In applying the systematic review methodology, we found that many of those captured articles that used the term integrative medicine were in actuality referring to adjunctive, complementary, or supplemental medicine. The objective of this study was to apply a sensitivity analysis to demonstrate how the results of a systematic review of IM and IHC will differ according to what inclusion criteria is used based on the definition of IM/IHC. By analyzing 4 different scenarios, the authors show that, due to unclear usage of these terms, results vary dramatically, exposing an inconsistent literature base for this field.

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