Alternative, complementary, integrative – conceptual problems in marketing healthcare ideologies and services



The terms ‘alternative medicine’, ‘complementary medicine’ and ‘integrative medicine’ are of recent origin. According to Medline and PubMed, ‘alternative medicine’ first appeared in medical journals in 1975, when Nursing Times commenced a series of articles on topics such as transcendental meditation, spiritual healing and homeopathy. According to the same databases, the first appearance of ‘complementary medicine’ occurred in 1985, when The Lancet published an article titled ‘Complementary medicine in the United Kingdom’. ‘Integrative medicine’ was introduced in an English language journal in 1995, although it had appeared in German in an article 2 years earlier and in French already in 1951. Since the terms have no historical bearing whatsoever, we claim that they are used, together with many other slogans that thrive in contemporary Western health care, for ideological or commercial reasons to promote ideologies or to facilitate the selling of products and services.