Starting from the premise that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a fascinating and fast-changing area of social life, this book explores the challenging issues associated with CAM in the context of the social, political and cultural influences that shape people's health.
Divided into three parts, the introductory chapter sets out the general context of social change, consumption and debate around the rise of public interest in CAM. The first part goes on to argue for and against different classifications of CAM, leading into a discussion of how CAM developed in a political and historical context. The Reader is invited to critically assess the importance of ethics and values to CAM practice and how these inform what practitioners do. The second part focuses on the question of what people want, the changing and contested nature of health, and the nature of personal and social factors associated with the use of CAM. This leads to a focus on 'therapeutic relationships'. The final part of the book examines the diversity of settings in which CAM takes place and the social, political and economic milieu in which CAM is provided and used.
This book will appeal to everyone who is concerned with or has an interest in CAM. It will be of particular interest to people working in the areas of CAM, health and social care and the voluntary sector. Together with its accompanying text, Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Structures and Safeguards, it forms the core text for the Open University course K221 Perspectives on Complementary and Alternative Medicine.