Complementary medicines in medicine: Conceptualising terminology among Australian medical students using a constructivist grounded theory approach Academic Article uri icon


  • Terminology around the use of complementary medicines (CM) within medical discourse is ambiguous. Clear collective discourse within the medical context is required. This study reports the findings of a Constructivist Grounded Theory Method study used to explore medical students' conceptualisation of terminology and associated value components around CMs as evidenced within their discourse community. The results show that terminology surrounding CMs within medicine is politically charged and fraught with value judgements. Terms used to describe CMs were considered, many of which were deemed problematic. Categorisation of specific medicines was also deemed inappropriate in certain contexts. Conceptualisation of CM terminology, categorisation and value implications, discriminated between levels of evidence for CMs and provided insights into the social change of medicine towards emergence of an evidence-based integrative approach. The results show that terminology surrounding CM is a social construct consistent with fluid conceptualisation and operationalisation in different social contexts.

publication date

  • 2015