MinervaBMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7161.826 (Published 19 September 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:826
American medical schools are still unsure whether or not to teach complementary medicine, and how to do it if they do (JAMA 1998;280:784-7). About two thirds offer some form of teaching, mostly in the form of electives. Less than a third of courses are part of the regular curriculum. Investigators are unsurprised by the confusion and point out that the subject area is also confused; the term complementary medicine covers over 150 different therapies, philosophies, and practices.
There are, however, an increasing number of journals dedicated to evaluating alternative treatments. Minerva mentioned one on 8 August and has been admonished by the editors of another, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, which is also peer reviewed, included in Medline, and dedicated to non-Western treatments for Western diseases. This year's summer issue includes a review of the best and worst control treatments to use in trials of acupuncture (4:159-171). There is a bewildering number of options, including waiting list controls, placebo treatments such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and sham needling at non-acupuncture sites.
A grim article in Paediatrics (1998;101:625-9)lists 172 children who …