SOC 280 Alternative Treatments

March 8, 2022
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SOC 280 Alternative Treatments

SOC 280 Alternative Treatments

Research Paper Topic Approval Blog

Possible Research Paper Topics

Alternative treatments

Narratives of health and recovery

Disability (mental and physical)

U.S. healthcare policy

Nationalized healthcare systems

Healthcare access and barriers

Additional at-risk populations

Additional illness experiences

Public health interventions

Metaphors and illness

Gender and the body

Race and the body

Social structure of medical education

Medicine and activism

Historical models of illness

Health education

Sexual and reproductive health

Health and social justice

Chronic illness

Bioethics and medical decision-making

Death and dying

End-of-life care

Genetic testing and diagnosis

Assisted reproductive technologies

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SOC 280 Alternative Treatments

SOC 280 Alternative Treatments

Illness branding

Illness in literature and film

Medical experimentation

Developmental illnesses

Caregiving

Alternative medicine is any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine, but which lacks biological plausibility and is untested, untestable or proven ineffective. Complementary medicine (CM), complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), integrated medicine or integrative medicine (IM), and holistic medicine are among many rebrandings of the same phenomenon. Alternative therapies share in common that they reside outside of medical science and instead rely on pseudoscience. Traditional practices become “alternative” when used outside their original settings without proper scientific explanation and evidence. Frequently used derogatory terms for the alternative are new-age or pseudo, with little distinction from quackery.

Some alternative practices are based on theories that contradict the science of how the human body works; others resort to the supernatural or superstitious to explain their effect. In others, the practice is plausibly effective but has too many side effects. Alternative medicine is distinct from scientific medicine, which employs the scientific method to test plausible therapies by way of responsible and ethical clinical trials, producing evidence of either effect or of no effect. Research into alternative therapies often fails to follow proper research protocols (such as placebo-controlled trials, blind experiments and calculation of prior probability), providing invalid results.

Much of the perceived effect of an alternative practice arises from a belief that it will be effective (the placebo effect), or from the treated condition resolving on its own (the natural course of disease). This is further exacerbated by the tendency to turn to alternative therapies upon the failure of medicine, at which point the condition will be at its worst and most likely to spontaneously improve. In the absence of this bias, especially for diseases that are not expected to get better by themselves such as cancer or HIV infection, multiple studies have shown significantly worse outcomes if patients turn to alternative therapies. While this may be because these patients avoid effective treatment, some alternative therapies are actively harmful (e.g. cyanide poisoning from amygdalin, or the intentional ingestion of hydrogen peroxide) or actively interfere with effective treatments.

The alternative sector is a highly profitable industry with a strong lobby, and faces far less regulation over the use and marketing of unproven treatments. Its marketing often advertises the treatments as being “natural” or “holistic”, in comparison to those offered by medical science. Billions of dollars have been spent studying alternative medicine, with few or no positive results. Some of the successful practices are only considered alternative under very specific definitions, such as those which include all physical activity under the umbrella of “alternative medicine”.

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Posted in nursing by Clarissa