Methodological Challenges in CAM Research Iris Bell, MD

Iris Bell, MD, PhD, Professor of Family & Community Medicine, Psychiatry, Psychology, Medicine and Public Health, University of Arizona College of Medicine This session discusses the application of cutting-edge concepts from complex adaptive systems and network science to evaluation of outcomes in patients undergoing treatment with packages of care in whole systems of complementary and alternative medicine. Converging opinion in CAM research is that conventional medical research methods for testing new pharmaceutical drugs are inappropriate for advancing understanding of the typically global and multidimensional effects of therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, and Ayurveda. The systems theory model emphasizes nonlinear dynamical responses, self-organization, emergent properties, and self-similarity at every level of scale. The complex systems approach involves analyzing time series physiological data (e.g., heart rate variability) for nonlinear patterns and systemic behavior variables such as adaptability and resilience to change as manifestations of wellness. Examples will include conditions that affect women’s health disproportionately, e.g., fibromyalgia and related disorders.