Applying principles from complex systems to studying the efficacy of CAM therapies

Andrew C. Ahn, Richard L. Nahin, Carlo Calabrese, Susan Folkman, Elizabeth Kimbrough, Jacob Shoham, Aviad Haramati

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


In October 2007, a National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)-sponsored workshop, entitled "Applying Principles from Complex Systems to Studying the Efficacy of CAM Therapies," was held at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Over a 2-day period, the workshop engaged a small group of experts from the fields of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) research and complexity science to discuss and examine ways in which complexity science can be applied to CAM research. After didactic presentations and small-group discussions, a number of salient themes and ideas emerged. This paper article describes the workshop program and summarizes these emergent ideas, which are divided into five broad categories: (1) introduction to complexity; (2) challenges to CAM research; (3) applications of complexity science to CAM; (4) CAM as a model of complexity applied to medicine; and (5) future directions. This discusses possible benefits and challenges associated with applying complexity science to CAM research. By providing an introductory framework for this collaboration and exchange, it is hoped that this article may stimulate further inquiry into this largely unexplored area of research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1015-1022
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2010


FundersFunder number
National Center for Complementary and Integrative HealthR25AT000419


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