Information on Complementary and Alternative Medicine in US Government Databases Is Biased

Wallace Sampson, MD


June 09, 2006

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If you were to investigate an anomalous medical method (an "alternative and complementary medicine") for a patient, for a research paper, or for your own education, you would probably turn to governmental sources. These include the National Institutes of Health's, NIH's National Center on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), and the National Library of Medicine's Medline/PubMed. If you expected to find an objective set of references, you would be mistaken. links to trade and unscientific occupational organizations, and presents anomalous methods in a "neutral" light. It contains minimal cautionary, negative information. When's director pointed this out and requested its own listing, healthfinder rejected the requests, and also removed the National Council Against Health Fraud from its links.[1,2]

NCCAM informational pages also refer inquiries to special interest organizations and unscientific occupational guilds. Despite the fact that no "CAM" method has been proved effective and large numbers of them are disproved, NCCAM does not link or refer to a critical organization.

The National Library of Medicine's PubMed reference base contains over 30 "CAM"-oriented and diet supplement-sponsored journals choked with misinformation and erroneous commentary, and another 70 journals listed as publishing "CAM" material. No critical journal is indexed or abstracted on Medline/PubMed.[3]

These agencies' directors maintain that their selection methods are appropriate, despite the fact that their recommendations produce biased and erroneous information. Directors refuse to change their methods. Will physicians and academics press for changes? I hope so.

That's my opinion. I'm Dr. Wallace Sampson, Member of the MedGenMed Editorial Board.

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