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Diversity in Collection Development: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Resources or CAM – the New Frontier. Susan Murray Consumer Health Information Service Toronto Reference Library MLA, May 17, 2005. CAM - Definitions.

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Diversity in Collection Development: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Resources orCAM – the New Frontier

Susan Murray

Consumer Health Information Service

Toronto Reference Library

MLA, May 17, 2005

cam definitions
CAM - Definitions
  • Alternative medicine - “other,” a type of medicine other than the traditional kind of medicine; independent healing systems outside the realm of western medical theory and practice
  • Also called complementary medicine or complementary health although this is often used to describe therapies that are used along with mainstream medicine, such as massage therapy
  • Also called integrative health
  • MeSH term in 1994, previously therapeutic cults
short history of medicine
Short History of Medicine

Ihave an earache…

2000 B.C. Here, eat this root.

1000 A.D. That root is heathen, Here, say this prayer.

1850 A.D. That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.

1940 A.D. That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.

1985 A.D. That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.

  • A.D. That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root.

Author Unknown

Cited: The Complementary and Alternative Medicine Information Source Book.ed. by Alan Rees. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 2001

cam use u s
CAM Use - U.S.
  • 36% of American adults used some form of CAM in 2002 – 62% if prayer for health reasons is included
  • $50 billion spent on CAM in 2002

- Most often used to treat back pain or back problems, joint pain or stiffness, and anxiety or depression

  • Exceptionally high usage by those with life threatening illnesses, such as cancer or HIV/AIDS
  • Barnes, PM, Powell-Griner E, McFann K, Nahin, RL. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults: United States, 2002. Advance data from vital and health statistics, no 343, Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics.


What do Users Ask About CAM?


What is it?

How does it work?

Is it safe?

Does it work? For my condition?

Where can I locate practitioners/clinics, etc.?

How much does it cost?

Health Care Professionals:

Is there evidence to support it?

balanced cam collection
Balanced CAM Collection
  • Alternative Systems – Ayurvedic Medicine, TCM, herbalism, naturopathy, homeopathy
  • Biologically-based therapies – vitamins,herbs, dietary supplements
  • Body-based therapies – massage, chiropractic
  • Mind-body therapies – meditation, art therapy, hypnosis, imagery, biofeedback
  • Energy therapies– Qi Gong, therapeutic touch, reiki, magnetic therapy
challenges in cam selection
Challenges in CAM Selection
  • Very diffuse topic area
  • Much questionable material – fads, selling of products, untested treatments
  • More difficult to judge authority of authors, institutions
  • Concern about choosing resources that are potentially harmful
  • Difficult to locate specialized publishers
  • Resources not published, indexed or in English
licensure abbreviations
Licensure Abbreviations
  • Alternative Medicine Foundation, Inc.

Alternative and Complementary Medicine Resource Guide.

  • Titles, initials, translations.

  • Directory of Hypnotherapy Practitioners.

Glossary of qualification abbreviations.

  • Key to professional titles. In Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. 2d ed.(p. 1113-4). Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 2002
selection criteria
Selection Criteria


  • Authority – author, institution, training & experience
  • Accuracy – type of evidence
  • Currency – not as important an issue with CAM
  • Point of view – balance? bias?
  • Audience level and usefulness
  • Scope of coverage - contribution to CAM knowledge base


  • Organization
  • Physical format
  • Cost
selection of cam resources
Selection of CAM Resources

“ In selecting materials, librarians should not be swayed by whether the treatments have been proven effective, but should collect works on both alternative and orthodox medicine so that consumers are given sufficient information to make choices.”

Kupferberg, N. Alternative medicine goes mainstream.

Library Journal, July 1994:51-55.

views of librarians medical students and physicians about cam resources
Views of Librarians, Medical Students and Physicians About CAM Resources

UBC study investigated the personal and professional opinions of librarians, medical students and doctors regarding the availability of CAM for both medical students and the general public

  • Medical students and doctors rejected any restrictions on the library acquiring or circulating these materials
  • Librarians were more hesitant about acquiring radical or revolutionary materials that might cause harm

Curry, A, Smith, ST. Information on alternative medicine: a collection management issue. Bull Med Libr Assoc 1998;86(1):95-100.

evolving area
Evolving Area
  • Growing number of publications from mainstream authors and publishers, particularly academic publishers
  • Articles in professional medical journals
  • Evidence-based material
  • Librarian- produced CAM collection guides and websites
cam selection aids i
CAM Selection Aids - I
  • The Complementary and Alternative Medicine Information Source Book.ed. by Alan Rees. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 2001.
  • includescore list, reviews of 355 popular books, associations/organizations, magazines/newsletters, reviews of 35 professional texts, and 60 Internet sites reviewed by Tom Flemming
  • Rees’ CHI reviews continued by Majors Scientific Books Report: Alan Rees on Consumer Health
cam selection aids ii
CAM Selection Aids - II
  • CAPHIS – collection development

e.g. CHIS healthnavigators

  • Reviews: Consumer Connections, Library Journal, Choice, Booklist
  • listservs: CAMLIB-L, CAPHIS, MEDLIB


cam selection aids iii
CAM Selection Aids- III
  • Scanning magazines and journals

- BMJ, Lancet, NEJM, JAMA

  • Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet

- alternative and complementary therapies column that focuses on an Internet site, a specific diagnosis, or a therapeutic modality: (vol.9(1) 2005 featured Tai Chi

  • Vendor catalogues: Login, Majors
  • Dalhousie University.School of Pharmacy.

  • provides links to publishers’ sites for ordering material on general CAM, homeopathy, herbal medicine
cam selection aids core lists
CAM Selection Aids –Core Lists
  • Brandon-Hill Lists discontinued in 2004

- continued by Doody Enterprises

  • Check CHI core lists, such as CAPHIS for CAM books:

cam electronic resources guides and lists
CAM Electronic Resources – Guides and Lists

 Rosenthal Centerfor Complementary and Alternative Medicine - directory of CAM databases

  • Bastyr University – online resources bibliography

  • Complementary Therapies on the Internet. By William Mac Beckner and Brian M. Berman. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 2003.
  • Guide to Complementary and Alternative Medicineon the Internet. By Lillian R. Brazin. New York: Haworth Information Press, 2003.
  • The Herbal Internet Companion: Herbs and Herbal Medicine Online. By David Owen. New York: Haworth Information Press, 2002.
cam electronic resources selected website directories
CAM Electronic Resources –Selected Website Directories
  • Alternative medicine : health care information

  • The Alternative Medicine!cbw/altm.html
cam electronic resources selected websites
CAM Electronic Resources –Selected Websites
  • CAM on

  • Canadian Health Network - Complementary and Alternative

  • MEDLINEplus: Alternative
  • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
cam courses
CAM Courses
  • Evidence-Based Approach to Complementary and Alternative Medicine

- MLA 2005 CE course taught by Stephanie Weldon

  • How to Find Good Complementary & AlternativeMedicine (CAM) Information on the Web

- MLA accredited online course taught by Diane Kovacs

cam readings
CAM Readings
  • Curry, Ann. Information on Alternative Medicine: A Collection Management Issue. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association January 1998 86(1):95-100.

  • Owen, David and Fang, Min-Lin. Information-Seeking Behavior in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM): An Online Survey of Faculty at a Health Sciences Campus. Journal of the Medical Library Association July 2003 91(3):311-321.

  • Walji, Muhammed et al. Efficacy of Quality Criteria to Identify Potentially Harmful Information: A Cross-Sectional Survey of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Web Sites. Journal of Medical Internet Research 6(2)article e21.