Background: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), such as acupuncture and herbal medicine, is popular in many countries. Yet, treatment outcomes of CAM are found to vary significantly between medical trials in different social environments. This paper addresses how the social organization of medicine affects medical treatment outcomes. In particular, it examines the extent to which two popular complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) interventions (acupuncture and herbal medicine) are coordinated with biomedicine and how coordination characteristics are related to the treatment outcomes of the two CAM interventions. Methods: This paper conducts an archival analysis of the institutional settings of the CAM interventions in Japan and the U.S. It also conducts a systematic content analysis of the treatment outcomes in 246 acupuncture reports and 528 herbal medicine reports that are conducted in Japan or the U.S. and registered in the Cochrane Library's Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), and 716 acupuncture reports and 3,485 herbal medicine reports that are from Japan or the U.S. and listed in MEDLINE. It examines the association between the treatment outcomes of the two interventions and the geographical location of the reports; it also explores how the institutional settings of the interventions are related to the treatment outcomes. Results: Japanese herbal medicine is integrated into the national medical system the most and American herbal medicine the least; American acupuncture and Japanese acupuncture fall in the middle. Treatment outcomes are the most favorable for Japanese herbal medicine and the least favorable for American herbal medicine. The outcomes of American acupuncture and Japanese acupuncture fall in the middle. Conclusions: The co-utilization of CAM with biomedicine can produce difficulties due to tensions between CAM and biomedicine. These difficulties and subsequent CAM treatment outcomes vary, depending on how CAM is institutionalized in relation to biomedicine in the national medical system. Coordinated CAM interventions are more likely to be effective and synergic with biomedicine, when compared to uncoordinated ones.
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
- Different Treatment Outcomes of CAM
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health