Measurement of efficacy: a case for holistic research
Abstract: Measurement of efficacy lies at the heart of the debate between orthodox and complementary medicine. Many orthodox practitioners reject user surveys and anecdotal information, arguing that success is more to do with the placebo effect or 'magical thinking'. Serious concerns have been voiced about the possible harm of complementary therapies, and claims have been made that, without clinical trials, the efficacy of complementary therapies cannot be demonstrated. Despite clinical trials, however, orthodox medicine is not without dangers. Moreover, while clinical trials are designed to test the efficacy of treatment in a relatively unbiased way, they have many limitations. They are based on a simplistic view of the world, which adopts narrow descriptions of illness and treatment, and which does not always acknowledge the patient as a person. Without a paradigm shift or change in research perspectives, the impasse of ideas will remain. Holistic medicine calls for holistic research.