Whole complementary and alternative medical systems and complexity: Creating collaborative relationships

Marja Verhoef, Mary Koithan, Iris R. Bell, John Ives, Wayne Jonas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In recent years, investigators have discovered significant limitations in applying biomedical cause-effect assumptions and using conventional efficacy study designs to assess the clinical outcomes of whole systems of complementary and alternative medicine (WS-CAM). A group of WS-CAM researchers has been working collaboratively since 2001 to address the limitations of studies evaluating WS-CAM and discern ways to conduct research that would capture the complexity of such systems and the synergistic effects between the various elements of the system and would take into account treatment individualization and/or the patient-centered nature of treatment systems. In 2009, 14 complexity scientists from systems biology, psychology and the social sciences were invited to attend a workshop with these CAM scientists to (a) identify and discuss analytical techniques that can be used to study phenomena from a complex/nonlinear dynamical sciences perspective, (b) establish working relationships with these researchers, and (c) develop working research projects/ protocols to collaboratively study patient-centered responses to CAM treatments. This paper provides an overview of the workshop goals and outcomes, introducing this special issue of Forschende Komplementärmedizin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-6
Number of pages4
JournalForschende Komplementarmedizin
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Complex adaptive systems
  • Complex systems science
  • Dynamic systems
  • Whole systems of complementary and alternative medicine
  • Workshop

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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