Editor's Correspondence |

Possible Danger of Integrating CAM in Medical Education

Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FRCP
Arch Intern Med. 2001;161(13):1680. doi:.
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Caspi et al1 very eloquently argue the case for the 2 camps, CAM and orthodox medicine, to learn each other's language so that both schools can be integrated more easily. Most of what they write seems irresistibly obvious and sound. Yet I would like to point out that the seemingly sequential steps of first learning a common language and then integration are not necessarily logical nor in the interest of the patient. Surely, establishing a common language must primarily lead to the understanding required for critical evaluation. Only those aspects that actually pass this stage can be worthy of being considered for an integration that will truly benefit patients in the longer term. I am sure it was not the authors' intention to pave the way for the uncritical integration of all things unorthodox. The danger, however, is that Caspi et al could be misunderstood to advocate a process in which the learning of a common language and the familiarization with alternative concepts (such as "Qi") degenerates to mere brainwashing of health care professionals, eventually resulting in less effective therapy for our patients. Integration of nonsense, in other words, must result in nonsense.

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