Terminology and definition of CAM methods

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Terminology and definition of CAM methods

Terminology in CAM is a very tricky thing. Due to different traditions and cultures there is a vast heterogeneity between CAM disciplines and methods used in various regions of the world as well as in Europe. There are so many local and regional specific treatments, methods and interventions that it is hardly fair to gather them all under a roof that is called CAM without any further specification of what CAM means in Europe.

For instance in the United States, you include “Prayer” when you talk about CAM, as in the view of the distinguished NCCAM, prayer is a self-healing practice and thus part of an alternative and complementary medical approach. Now this is not at all self-evident in Europe, where this notion can hardly be expected to go unchallenged – from many different angles, not only religious ones.

Integrative Medicine, Alternative Medicine, Holistic Medicine, Medicine douce, Ganzheitsmedizin, Naturheilkunde, Naturopathy, Traditional European Medicine (TEM), Erfahrungsheilkunde – these are just a few of the general expressions for the whole field – and each of them of course comes along with further definitions as to what it consists of and what it excludes.

One of the first goals of CAMbrella will therefore be to establish a consensus-based list of CAM terminology for the European context. This is not as easy as it sounds, and the working group has to meet various challenges in order to achieve this goal that will eventually result in a European CAM glossary.

The most challenging questions right from the start are:

How to gather the relevant information on the use of CAM terms in the member countries?

How to make sure that no relevant information is omitted?

How to make sure that the terms’ local and regional meanings are translated correctly and brought into context with the other regional and local definitions and practices?

Actually, the glossary will already be established by the middle of CAMbrella’s running time, i.e. by the summer of 2011, thus providing the other working groups with a tool they can rely on.


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