CAM and nursing: from advocacy to critical sociology

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Stepping back from the immediate demands of policy-making, Mainstreaming Complementary and Alternative Medicine allows a complex and informative picture to emerge of the different social forces at play in the integration of CAM with orthodox medicine. Complementing books that focus solely on practice, it will be relevant reading for all students following health studies or healthcare courses, for medical students and medical and healthcare professionals.

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Despite recent developments in the sociology of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), a critical analysis of the apparent affinity between CAM and nursing has, to date, remained essentially undeveloped. An empirical project is currently being conducted as an initial step to address the absence of such important critical research. A total of 30 written life history narratives were obtained from nurses working with and using CAM to explore such matters as professional boundaries and nurses' authentication strategies and conceptualisation and operationalisation of CAM. This paper addresses questions and conflicts that arose as the analytical tools were considered for these narrative accounts. Specifically, the paper explores whether the storied narrative sits easily with a critically oriented sociology of CAM; the differences between the role of "storyteller" or "story analyst"; and ask whether there is potential for developing a critical sociology of CAM nursing that retains the essence of personal stories.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasingly popular amongst midwives in Australia. A growing number of hospital midwives are personally integrating one or a range of CAM within their midwifery practice. Despite this trend we still know little about CAM in midwifery, particularly at a grass-roots level. This paper reports findings from one section of a larger exploratory study examining grass-root practitioners' understandings and experiences of complementary therapies in nursing and midwifery. Thirteen in-depth interviews were conducted with midwives working in New South Wales public hospitals and currently integrating CAM within their general midwifery practice. Analysis illustrates how midwives' explanations of, and affinity claims regarding, CAM feed into wider ongoing issues relating to professional autonomy and the relationship between midwifery and obstetrics.
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