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Complementary and alternative medicine for children: a good or a bad thing?
  1. E Ernst
  1. Correspondence to:
    Prof. E Ernst
    Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter & Plymouth, 25 Victoria Park Road, Exeter EX2 4NT, UK; Edzard.Ernst{at}pms.ac.uk

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Commentary on the paper by Cincotta et al (see page 153)

In this issue, Cincotta et al compare the usage of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in Cardiff (UK) with that of Melbourne (Australia).1 The authors note that it is remarkably high in both places and that a number of intriguing differences exist between the two locations. They explain these through a range of sociocultural differences. Perhaps the most obvious of these is availability, and Cincotta provide data to support this hypothesis. In a circular fashion, usage seems to determine the number of CAM practitioners which, in turn, determines usage.

In addition to these factors, there could well be others. We have, for instance, shown a striking correlation between the sales figures for BMW cars and those for CAM products.2 This suggests that affluence affects CAM usage—not altogether implausible as CAM is largely private medicine. The “undue influence of the press”3 is also noteworthy. The UK daily press depicts CAM in a significantly more positive light than conventional medicine,4 and many of the …

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