ICAM Resource Center

Welcome to the ICAM (Integrative, Complementary and Alternative Medicine) Resource Center! Our mission is to give health professionals-in-training an understanding of the distinct areas of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including how to integrate useful and proven CAM modalities into holistic, patient-centered clinical practice.

What is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative Medicine is a patient-centered approach to medicine that focuses on treating the “whole patient”. It incorporates the best of Western scientific medicine with a broader understanding of the nature of healing, illness and wellness. It appreciates that there are multiple aspects of patient care (i.e. mental, physical, spiritual, environmental), recognizing that these multiple aspects are critical to fostering an optimal healing environment. To this aim, integrative medicine utilizes open, honest, caring and humanistic interaction in the doctor-patient relationship in order to educate and empower the patient. Patient education is seen as the cornerstone for integrative medicine, which is informed by evidence, drawing on scientifically-based interventions incorporating nutrition, exercise, physical manipulation, as well as mind-body interventions.

AMSA’s working position statement on Integrative Medicine

AMSA believes that students and physicians can best serve their patients by recognizing and acknowledging the availability of integrative medicine in their communities. By pursuing education in complementary and alternative medical (CAM) treatments, medical students and physicians can better facilitate the appropriate education, treatment and counseling of patients and consumers.

  • AMSA believes that an empowered patient can serve as a powerful and central actor in their own healing.
  • Appropriate education in CAM treatments uses scientific and ethnographic methods, including quantitative and qualitative outcomes research of efficacy and effectiveness. Although it is informed by evidence, it considers explanatory models and cultural.
  • AMSA supports students who wish to work within the healthcare system to create an environment which is supportive of the whole patient.
  • AMSA believes that medical students and other health care professionals need to be restored and whole in order to be empowering and healing for their patients.

CAM Organizations

Efficacy VS Effectiveness of CAM Practices

(From Curtis, PC 2004) Efficacy means that the treatment or substance (surgery, medication, herbal remedy) clearly produces a change in biological or psychosocial function under optimum conditions—after excluding other possible causes for the change. That biological change may be beneficial or deleterious. Effectiveness, on the other hand, refers to the treatment’s success in day-to-day clinical practice. Outcomes of complementary and alternative medicine can be studied by using both efficacy and effectiveness research.

For more information: Curtis, PC. Assessing the Effectiveness of Complementary & Alternative Medicine. In S. Gaylord, S. Norton, P. Curtis (Eds.), The Convergence of Complementary, Alternative & Conventional Health Care: Educational Resources for Health Professionals. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Program on Integrative Medicine, 2004.