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Cadernos de Saúde Pública

Print version ISSN 0102-311XOn-line version ISSN 1678-4464

Abstract

TESSER, Charles Dalcanale  and  DALLEGRAVE, Daniela. Complementary and alternative medicine and social medicalization: lack of definitions, risks, and potentials in primary healthcare. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 2020, vol.36, n.9, e00231519.  Epub Sep 04, 2020. ISSN 1678-4464.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/0102-311x00231519.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) need to be increasingly understood in the academic and research setting, given their growing inclusion in health institutions and scientific studies. However, vague definitions or broad generalizations are common in the Brazilian scientific literature, an example of which is the relationship between CAM and social medicalization. This study aims to discuss the medicalizing and de-medicalizing potential of the use of CAM, especially in primary healthcare (PHC). This essay summarizes the underlying lack of definition concerning the medicalizing and de-medicalizing potential of various CAM, based on the selected literature, which reports theoretical and empirical convergences. The exercise of CAM in the clinical context has a medicalizing potential, due to its positive, expanded, and holistic conception of health and its etiological multidimensionality, potentially generating so-called “holistic illness”, which has been reported theoretically and empirically. CAM also have de-medicalizing potential, depending on the practitioner, due to greater interpretative flexibility, contextualization, singularization, users’ participation in the care, closer clinical relationship, the values and traditions of some CAM, diversity of interventions, and the potential for enrichment of self-care. The medicalizing or de-medicalizing potential of various CAM is activated by their practitioners, and the context of PHC tends to favors the de-medicalizing potential.

Keywords : Complementary Therapies; Medicalization; Primary Health Care; Public Health.

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