Title

Risk and efficacy in biomedical media representations of herbal medicine and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Lewis, M 2011, 'Risk and efficacy in biomedical media representations of herbal medicine and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)', Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 210-217.

Publisher's version of article available at:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2156587211409940

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

The objective of the research was to map the discourse about herbal medicine in Australia’s primary medical journal, the Medical Journal of Australia, over 4 decades. Manifest content analysis of 148 articles about herbal or complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in journal articles from 1966 to 2008 was undertaken. Issues of risk dominated the discourse about herbal medicine in the journal (70%), with a focus on adverse events (42%) as the most significant risk of herbal and other complementary medicines. Toxicity (23%) and drug interactions (18%) were the most frequently mentioned specific risk items. Items that acknowledged efficacy (32%) outweighed those suggesting ineffectiveness (11%). Case reports, reviews, research articles, and letters all had risk frequencies of more than 70%. Review articles and research articles had a high rate of reference to both risk and benefit. Review articles were found to have greater reference to benefit than risk. Possible reasons for these findings are discussed.