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8 hours $7.98
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20 hours $5.98
30 hours $4.98

Ethical Issues in Complementary and Alternative Medicine

1.5 Contact Hours
Target Audience: Nurses, healthcare professionals, and interested individuals
Purpose/Goal: The outcome of this course is for the learner to describe major ethical issues facing biomedical providers and integrative health providers, the rise of integrative medicine, specific ethical theories, and the relationship between culture and ethics.
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There has been a dramatic rise in the use and acceptance of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies in the United States. However, there are ethical issues that remain unresolved surrounding provider oversight, inconsistent legislative mandates regarding definitions about standards of care and scope of practice, liability issues for providers and organizations, and lack of knowledge about CAM therapies.

Upon completion of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Describe the factors contributing to the rise in complementary and alternative medicine in the United States.
  • Explain the characteristics of CAM therapies.
  • Identify key events contributing to the rise of biomedicine and provider regulation.
  • Differentiate between key ethical theories and principles.
  • Examine the ethical issues related to CAM therapies.
  • Identify the relationship between culture and ethics.

One of the most popular health movements of the 21st century has been complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) (Cohen, Ruggie, & Micozzi, 2007). The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) defines CAM as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not part of conventional medicine (also called “Western,” “allopathic,” or “biomedicine”). Conventional medicine practitioners include medical doctors (MDs), doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs), and allied health professionals such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses. CAM practices include the following broad categories and modalities (NCCIH, 2016a):

  • Natural products
    • Dietary supplements
    • Probiotics
    • Herbal medicines
  • Mind-body medicine
    • Meditation
    • Yoga
    • Acupuncture
    • Deep-breathing exercises
    • Guided imagery
    • Hypnotherapy
    • Progressive relaxation o Qi gong
    • Tai chi
  • Manipulative and body-based practices
    • Spinal manipulation
    • Massage therapy
  • Other CAM practices
    • Movement therapies (such as Feldenkrais method, Alexander technique, Pilates, Rolfing structural integration, Trager psychophysical integration)
    • Traditional healing practices (performed by medicine men, shamans, and other indigenous healers)
    • Energy therapies
    • Healing touch
    • Homeopathy
    • Naturopathy
    • Whole medical systems (Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine)

Recently, the term integrative medicine has been used to describe the inclusion of allopathic medicine and CAM in the treatment of patients. Integrative medicine is used by a wide variety of people for a wide variety of complaints in a wide variety of health care settings.

Complete the course post exam (CE Test) with a score of 80% or greater. Complete all fields of the course evaluation form. Certificate of Completion is provided once the course post exam is passed per criteria above.

  • American Board of Managed Care Nursing
  • ANCC - American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • AOTA - American Occupational Therapy Association
  • ASWB - Association of Social Work Boards
  • California Board of Behavioral Sciences
  • California Board of Registered Nursing
  • California Department of Health, Aid, and Technician Certification Section
  • District of Columbia Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing - Certified Nursing Assistants
  • Florida Board of Respiratory Care
  • Florida Council of Dietetics and Nutrition
  • Florida Council of Licensed Midwifery
  • Florida Office of School Psychology
  • NAADAC - The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
  • NCBTMB -National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
  • Florida Board of Massage Therapists


Practice Level:


Content Focus:

Domain of OT

Course Expires:

December 15, 2020

  • Cyndie Koopsen, RN, BSN, MBA, HNB-BC, RN-BC, HWNC-BC
  • Caroline Young, MPH
Jurisdictional Requirements:

Continuing education (CE) licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction, are not well defined, and may change. These CE requirements may vary in terms of the number of hours required to the types of courses that must be taken. ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC recommends you contact your licensing board or accrediting organization for the latest continuing education requirements of your state or territory. Compliance with CE requirements is the responsibility of the individual health care provider. Health care providers must understand the CE requirements in their jurisdictions, and be sure they are up-to-date on any rule changes that affect their license. For further information, please see our Accreditation Information.

Accommodations for Disabilities:

Every effort will be made to accommodate your special needs. To request accommodations, please contact us.

Conflicts of Interest and Relevant Financial Relationships:

The authors/planning committee members have no conflicts of interests or relevant financial relationships to declare relevant to this activity.

Commercial Support:

No commercial support has been received for this activity.

Non-endorsement of products:

Accreditation refers to recognition of continuing nursing education only and does not imply ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC approval or endorsement of any commercial product.

Off-label Use of Products:

None of the authors intend to discuss off-label uses of drugs, mechanical devices, biologics, or diagnostics not approved by the FDA for use in the United States.