Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Professions or Modalities?

Policy Implications for Coverage, Licensure, Scope of Practice, Institutional Privileges, and Research

by Patricia M. Herman, Ian D. Coulter


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This report examines a problem that confronts the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) professions whereby a profession is defined politically not by its full professional scope but by its treatment modalities. Even when CAM disciplines are defined by legal statutes as broad-based professions, this designation is not honored by such codes as the policies of insurance coverage. This project consisted of three parts: development of a background paper on the policy issues associated with the scope of practice and utilization of CAM practitioners in the health care system, input from a panel of CAM experts, and input from a panel of health care policy decisionmakers. With the increasing utilization of CAM by the public and the increasing consideration of CAM in all aspects of health policy, this report serves as a valuable reference document to aid in policymaking in terms of the challenges associated with coverage, licensure, scope of practice, institutional privileges, and research.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Background on Professions versus Procedures

  • Chapter Three

    CAM Professions Represented in This Report

  • Chapter Four

    Examples of Policies Where Profession versus Procedures Makes a Difference

  • Chapter Five

    CAM Expert Panel

  • Chapter Six

    Health Policy Decisionmaker Panel

  • Chapter Seven

    Summary and Conclusions

  • Appendix A

    Members of the CAM Expert Panel

  • Appendix B

    Members of the Health Policy Decisionmakers Panel

  • Appendix C

    Briefing Paper for the Health Policy Decisionmakers Panel

  • Appendix D

    Past Collective Efforts Across the CAM Professions

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