Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to a group of treatment modalities that do not fall within the realm of conventional medicine. Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine practices, while alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine (Fjær et al., 2020). Stubbe (2018) states that CAM is a widespread practice, with more than 40% of the adults in the United States utilizing the therapy. He further notes that those who seek CAM do so in the quest for ways to improve their health and relieve symptoms associated with chronic conditions, particularly those which cause severe pain, such as cancers.
Experts and scholars use five categories that describe complementary and alternative therapies. These are mind-body therapies (meditation, biofeedback, hypnosis), biologically based practices (vitamins, botanicals), body-based and manipulative practices (chiropractic, massage, reflexology), energy healing, and whole medical systems (naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine) (National Cancer Institute, 2021). Among the people who use either of the five categories of complementary and alternative medicine, some combine the therapies with prayer and others who do not, this paper’s primary focal analysis point.
In an analysis by Yalcin et al. (2020), the percentage of adults using CAM was 36%. However, when prayer was included in the definition of CAM, the prevalence rose to 62%. Prayer was used more by individuals with advanced illnesses such as cancer. Education levels and cultural and religious factors determine the utilization of complementary and alternative medicine therapies. Utilization spans across diverse populations in the United States. Prayers for health reasons is the widely used method of CAM (South & McDowell, 2018).
Fjær, E. L., Landet, E. R., McNamara, C. L., & Eikemo, T. A. (2020). The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in Europe. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-020-02903-w
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National Cancer Institute. (2021). Complementary and Alternative Medicine. National Cancer Institute; Cancer.gov. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam
South, R., & McDowell, L. (2018). Use of Prayer as Complementary Therapy by Christian Adults in the Bible Belt of the United States. Religions, 9(11), 350. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9110350
Stubbe, D. E. (2018). Complementary and Alternative Medicine: If You Don’t Ask, They Won’t Tell. Focus: Journal of Life Long Learning in Psychiatry, 16(1), 60–62. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.focus.20170052
Yalcin, S., Hurmuz, P., McQuinn, L., & Naing, A. (2018). Prevalence of Complementary Medicine Use in Patients With Cancer: A Turkish Comprehensive Cancer Center Experience. Journal of Global Oncology, 4, 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1200/jgo.2016.008896
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