Complimentary vs. Alternative vs. Integrated

I got into a discussion recently as to whether chiropractic should be considered complimentary or alternative medicine. The April 25, 2008 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study entitled “Do Chiropractors Identify with Complementary and Alternative Medicine? Results of a Survey”.  Their findings were that the majority (69%) of the chiropractors in the sample rejected being characterized as CAM practitioners, showing some preference for the term integrated medicine (27%).

I suppose when a chiropractor is evidence-based and thrives to work within the medical model, the term ‘alternative’ might not apply.  When I send a patient to his primary care physician to get medication during a course of chiropractic treatment, that is certainly not an alternative to medical care.  It is complimentary to what the MD might prescribe.  Is it integrated?  Not yet for me.  If I were practicing in a hospital setting or some multi-disciplinary setting, I might be more comfortable with the term “integrated.”  For now, I’ll settle for complementary.


Dr. Kinsler, a chiropractor, is a complementary health practitioner 🙂 in the Rochester, NY area.

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