A research roadmap for complementary and alternative medicine - What we need to know by 2020

Felix Fischer, George Lewith, Claudia M. Witt, Klaus Linde, Klaus Ammon, Francesco Cardini, Torkel Falkenberg, Vinjar Fønnebø, Helle Johannessen, Bettina Reiter, Bernhard Uehleke, Wolfgang Weidenhammer, Benno Brinkhaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The CAMbrella coordination action was funded within the Framework Programme 7. Its aim is to provide a research roadmap for clinical and epidemiological research for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) that is appropriate for the health needs of European citizens and acceptable to their national research institutes and healthcare providers in both public and private sectors. One major issue in the European research agenda is the demographic change and its impact on health care. Our vision for 2020 is that there is an evidence base that enables European citizens to make informed decisions about CAM, both positive and negative. This roadmap proposes a strategic research agenda for the field of CAM designed to address future European health care challenges. This roadmap is based on the results of CAMbrella's several work packages, literature reviews and expert discussions including a consensus meeting. Methods: We first conducted a systematic literature review on key issues in clinical and epidemiological research in CAM to identify the general concepts, methods and the strengths and weaknesses of current CAM research. These findings were discussed in a workshop (Castellaro, Italy, September 7-9th 2011) with international CAM experts and strategic and methodological recommendations were defined in order to improve the rigor and relevance of CAM research. These recommendations provide the basis for the research roadmap, which was subsequently discussed in a consensus conference (Järna, Sweden, May 9-11th 2012) with all CAMbrella members and the CAMbrella advisory board. The roadmap was revised after this discussion in CAMbrella Work Package (WP) 7 and finally approved by CAMbrella's scientific steering committee on September 26th 2012. Results: Our main findings show that CAM is very heterogenous in terms of definitions and legal regulations between the European countries. In addition, citizens' needs and attitudes towards CAM as well as the use and provision of CAM differ significantly between countries. In terms of research methodology, there was consensus that CAM researchers should make use of all the commonly accepted scientific research methods and employ those with utmost diligence combined in a mixed methods framework. Conclusions: We propose 6 core areas of research that should be investigated to achieve a robust knowledge base and to allow stakeholders to make informed decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1-e16
JournalForschende Komplementarmedizin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical research
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Consensus process
  • Epidemiological research
  • Research methodology
  • Research priorities


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