I have often referred to CAM as “faith-based medicine” due to its reliance on belief over evidence for validation, and I have commented on my perception that such a belief-based approach resembles religion, for which I have been soundly chastized by some here. However, a recent article in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine would seem to support the link between religion, or at least religiosity, and CAM.
Unfortunately, without paying for a subscription, I can only access the abstract and first page, but here are some tidbits:
Naturopaths and acupuncturists were three times as likely as internists and rheumatologists to report no religious affiliation (35% versus 12%, p<0.001), but were more likely to describe themselves as very spiritual (51% versus 20%, p<0.001) and to agree they try to carry religious beliefs into life’s dealings (51% versus 44%, p<0.01). Among physicians, increased spirituality and religiosity coincided with more personal use of CAM and willingness to integrate CAM into a treatment program.
Religion, spirituality, and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are related to one another in complex ways. Religious practitioners and CAM supporters are critical of conventional biomedicine’s reducttionism and impersonality…Additionally, reflecting religious traditions, CAM supporters see patients as “whole persons—spiritual beings.” Thus, we might expect those who are more religious to be attracted to CAM practices.
The article does discuss the concern of some fundamentalist members of mainstream religions with the “universal notion of spirituality over particular and concrete practices of religion, but it does suggest that overal a supernaturalist outlook is correlated with an openess to vitalist, non-scientific approaches to medicine.