Other Possible Explanations
1.26 Some evidence we have received has suggested
reasons for CAM use that are neither to do with patient satisfaction
with CAM, nor dissatisfaction with conventional medicine. Dr Thurstan
Brewin (P 244) suggested that the current popularity of CAM is
dictated by fashion, as is evidenced by the many articles and
advertisements in the lay press. He also suggested that another
reason for the rising trend in CAM utilisation relates to a cultural
change with a renewed interest in the paranormal (e.g. astrology)
which remains popular no matter how much evidence refutes it.
He postulated that another factor in CAM's popularity is the increased
anxiety about health across society, despite the longer and safer
lives which people now lead. He therefore suggested that much
of CAM's popularity lies with the 'worried well', a suggestion
others have also made.
1.27 In their oral evidence to us the General Medical
Council (GMC) put forward that one other reason for CAM's popularity
may be the general attitude of society towards science (Q 1036).
They suggested that in some areas of society there is a flight
from science, fuelled by unbalanced and inaccurate articles in
the media and by the unsubstantiated claims from some environmental
groups. The subject of society's flight from science was tackled
by this Committee last year and is discussed in our previous report
Science and Society.
1.28 It would be useful to have more research on
why the public are increasingly using CAM in their healthcare
regimes. At the moment the reasons are unclear, but the answer
to this question is important as it may have implications for
the NHS, conventional healthcare practitioners and CAM practitioners,
who wish to meet their patients' needs more comprehensively.
Approach of This Report
1.29 This report does not consider the clinical efficacy
of particular products or therapies except insofar as evidence
is available to inform policy. We shall return to our reasons
for this later in the report.
1.30 Whatever the reasons behind the popularity of
CAM it is clear that there is an increasing number of patients
and practitioners who are each involved in this area of healthcare.
It is this high level of public interest that has prompted our
Inquiry, raising important public policy questions that we have
been charged with considering: