Healthc Pap. 2003 ; 3(5): 50-5; discussion 72-7.
Complementary and alternative medicine: an integrated approach required.
Academic Affairs, Capital District Health Authority, Haifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Methods of verification of the efficacy and safety of health interventions must be congruent with the underlying health beliefs. It is therefore inappropriate to require scientific validation of health interventions that are not based on science. On the other hand, there is no justification for different standards of validation of health products from alternative sources that are used by the public in a manner similar to prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Public monies for health research should be focused on establishing the criteria for safety and efficacy of interventions based on alternative health belief systems, on understanding the "meaning" response and on clinical/epidemiologic research on a carefully selected small number of alternative interventions based on their "plausibility." Novel ways of surveillance of the safety of alternative therapies should be supported in place of the planned system modelled on the program for drugs.