Defining and Assessing Alternative Medicine Practices

Timothy Gorski, MD
JAMA. 1996;276(3):195-196. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540030029017.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

To the Editor.  —In the Resident Forum calling for resident physicians to look more favorably on "alternative medicine," Dr Dyer1 equates the term with "treatments and practices that have not gained wide acceptance or have not yet had adequate scientific research to be considered standard medical treatment." However, doing so fails to distinguish what is usually meant by alternative medicine from legitimate emerging medical science, which includes, for example, the use of methotrexate to treat ectopic pregnancy. It would be more accurate to say that alternative medicine refers to treatments and practices that are claimed to be safe and effective but remain unproven (or in many cases disproven) or based on unscientific ideas about health and disease (ie, medical quackery).Thus, while spinal manipulation has been shown to have benefits for acute musculoskeletal-related low back pain in adults,2,3 it hardly seems appropriate, much less ethical, to spend scarce


Sign In to Access Full Content

Don't have Access?

Register and get free email Table of Contents alerts, saved searches, PowerPoint downloads, CME quizzes, and more

Subscribe for full-text access to content from 1998 forward and a host of useful features

Activate your current subscription (AMA members and current subscribers)

Purchase Online Access to this article for 24 hours




Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Sign In to Access Full Content

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.