What is CAM

“CAM” stands for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which covers a whole host of different therapies used traditionally and in the community. There are a number of different formal definitions of CAM, as discussed in the slides below.  In 2022 Ng et al produced an operational definition of complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine derived from a systematic search, available here. They have also created a search string, available here.


  • BMA (British Medical Association)., (1993). Complementary Medicine: New Approaches to Good Practice. UK: Oxford University Press.
  • House of Lords, Select Committee on Science and Technology., (2000). Sixth report. Complementary and alternative medicine. London: House of Lords.
  • NCCAM (National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine)., (2007). CAM Basics. USA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • NHS, (2016). Complementary and alternative medicine. Accessed at: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/complementary-alternative-medicine/Pages/complementary-alternative-medicines.aspx
  • Ng, J.  Dhawaan, T., Dogadova, E., Taghi-Zada, Z., Vacca, A., Fajardo, R., Masood, HA., Patel, R., Sunderji, S., Wieland, S., Moher, D. (2022) A comprehensive search string informed by an operational definition of complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine for systematic bibliographic database search strategies. BMC CAM 22, Article number: 200
  • Uehleke, B., Falkenberg, T., von Ammon, K., Lewith, G., Lazarus, A., Roberti di Sarsina, P., (2012). A pan-European research network for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. CAMbrella.
  • WHO., (2000). General Guides for Methodologies on Research and Evaluation of Traditional Medicine. Geneva: World Health Organization.
  • Wieland, L.S., Manheimer, E., Berman, B.M., (2011). Development and classification of an operational definition of complementary and alternative medicine for the Cochrane Collaboration. Alternative therapies in health and medicine. 17.(2), 50.
  • Zollman, C., Vickers, A., (1999). What is complementary medicine? BMJ. 319. (693).