According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), “complementary and alternative medicine is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, and alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine.” Alternative healthcare workers are those involved with the practice of alternative medicine in any form. The role of alternative healthcare workers is to provide alternative treatments and medications for patients, or conduct research on the alternative treatments.
Alternative medicine is difficult to define because it is constantly changing. Many new practices are being developed, and older treatments are being considered part of conventional medicine. Examples of alternative medicine include: using herbal medicines or botanicals, the use of probiotics, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, deep-breathing exercises, guided imagery, hypnotherapy, progressive relaxation, magnetic therapy, spinal manipulation (chiropractic), and massage therapy. Three out of every four U.S. health-care workers use some form of complementary or alternative medicine or practice to help stay healthy, a new report shows. According to the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (part of the National Institutes of Health), about 38 percent of Americans currently avail themselves of some form of complementary/alternative medicine. Overall, health-care workers were found to be bigger users of complementary/alternative medicine than those outside the health-care industry. Seventy-six percent of health-care workers said they had used such methods in the past year, compared to 63 percent of people working in non-healthcare fields.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2011). What Is...