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        Sociological support for importance of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
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The timely article by Bhugra et al (Psychiatric Bulletin, February 2004, 28, 36-39) may not be welcomed by all readers. Therefore, I would like to support their view that psychiatrists - and indeed other physicians - should take an interest in whatever their patients resort to for relief of symptoms. For additional reading, I recommend a chapter by Goldstein (1999). Already more than 10 years ago, it was estimated that Americans made considerably more visits to unconventional providers than to all primary care physicians. By so doing, they spent $13.7 billion more than they spent out of pocket on conventional care that same year. Some insurance companies and health maintenance organisations offer coverage for some forms of alternative care. Listings in the Healthy Yellow Pages for Los Angeles are hilarious and informative alike.

In the 16th century, few liked to believe that the earth is not the centre of the universe. Now, most medically trained people prefer to perceive themselves as central to providing health care. The perspective seems to be different for many on the receiving end.

Goldstein, M. S. (1999) The growing acceptance of complementary and alternative medicine. In Handbook of Medical Sociology (ed Bird, C. E., Conrad, P. & Fremont, A. M.), pp. 284297. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.