Integrative Medicine and the Imperative for Health Justice
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

Chao, Maria T. and Adler, Shelley R. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. February 2018, 24(2): 101-103. 

Osher Collaborative Forum: Outlooks, Opinions and Opportunities

This is the first column of the new JACM/Osher Collaborative partnership.
(Note: This article will be fully available via public Open Access until March 27, 2018.)

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Maria T. Chao, DrPH, MPA Osher Center for Integrative Medicine University of California, San Francisco
Shelley R. Adler, PhD Osher Center for Integrative Medicine University of California, San Francisco

Proponents of integrative medicine have made clear our collective interest in providing evidence-based care, using the best pedagogical tools to train the next generation of practitioners, and conducting rigorous research. The changing healthcare landscape and increasing sociopolitical challenges, however, point to additional core features of integrative medicine, clinical care, education, and research that are still not consistently acknowledged. As more of us turn toward the suffering of substantial segments of society, we recognize that a conventional approach to “unconventional” medicine is not enough. What is the collective responsibility of advocates of integrative medicine to society?

We propose that it is necessary, but insufficient, to use biomedical standards as the measures by which we judge the outcomes of our work. In addition to providing exceptional healthcare, offering high-quality education, and conducting rigorous science, integrative medicine must compassionately address the needs of all members of society. We advocate for health justice, the imperative that all people have the right to the highest attainable health, that social factors are fundamental determinants of health, and that systems and institutions should support the right to health by providing equal access to compassionate, affordable healthcare. We have a critical opportunity to review the formal scope of integrative medicine to include health justice as a central mission and diversity, equity, and inclusion as core principles.

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