Why does it make sense to systematically use CAM within European healthcare?

European citizens want CAM

This simple statement sums up the findings of existing surveys on the attitude of European citizens towards CAM. It is estimated that 100,000,000 European citizens already use CAM, (135) and the number is growing. The CAMbrella research project also confirmed that Europeans would like CAM to be available, to be of high quality and to be socially recognized. They would also like reliable information about the treatment and its consequences in order to help them make responsible choices (see page 97, 109). Such a large interest should generate a commitment from the democratically elected political representations. The popularity of CAM is not just a trend – on the contrary, it appears to be rational and well-founded:

The most common reasons for the high popularity of CAM in Europe are as follows:

CAM respects patients as partners, and recognizes their responsibility for their own health, and their right to choose.

This aspect of CAM is repeatedly mentioned in comparison to the sometimes authoritative attitude of conventional medicine, and also in relation to the prevention of illnesses and diseases:

“Personal responsibility for one’s own health is a vital aspect in the prevention of illness. CAM has always been a strong proponent of:

  • a more prominent role for the patient in the healthcare system
  • the right of patients to assume responsibility for their own healthcare
  • encouraging and enabling citizens to become more knowledgeable about health related subjects.” (136)

CAM works with patients as a whole, it recognizes the complexity and uniqueness of each person.

Patients' expectations and preferences are gradually changing – patients increasingly appreciate a holistic approach that does not only solve individual problems but considers the uniqueness of each patient and perceives the illness in the context of the their life situation.

“Personalised medicine is a medical approach which is tailored to the patient or a group of patients – whether for prevention, prognosis or treatment. In other words, it moves away from the common ‘one size fits all’ medical model. This approach is now being financially supported by the European Commission.” (137)