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Traditional, complementary and alternative medical systems and their contribution to personalisation, prediction and prevention in medicine—person-centred medicine

Paolo Roberti di Sarsina123*, Mauro Alivia24 and Paola Guadagni24

Author Affiliations

1 High Council of Health, Ministry of Health, Rome, 00144, Italy

2 Charity Association for Person Centred Medicine, Via Siepelunga, 36/12, Bologna, 40141, Italy

3 Observatory and Methods for Health, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, 20126, Italy

4 Italian Society of Anthroposophic Medicine (SIMA), Milan, 20121, Italy

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EPMA Journal 2012, 3:15  doi:10.1186/1878-5085-3-15

Published: 6 November 2012


Traditional, complementary and alternative medical (TCAM) systems contribute to the foundation of person-centred medicine (PCM), an epistemological orientation for medical science which places the person as a physical, psychological and spiritual entity at the centre of health care and of the therapeutic process. PCM wishes to broaden the bio-molecular reductionistic approach of medical science towards an integration that allows people, doctors, nurses, health-care professionals and patients to become the real protagonists of the health-care scene. The doctor or caregiver needs to act out of empathy to meet the unique value of each human being, which unfolds over the course of a lifetime from conception to natural death. Knowledge of the human being should not be instrumental to economic or political interests, ideology, theories or religious dogma. Research needs to be broadened with methodological tools to investigate person-centred medical interventions. Salutogenesis is a fundamental principle of PCM, promoting health and preventing illness by strengthening the individual's self-healing abilities. TCAM systems also give tools to predict the insurgence of illness and treat it before the appearance of overt organic disease. A task of PCM is to educate people to take better care of their physical, psychological and spiritual health. Health-care education needs to be broadened to give doctors and health-care workers of the future the tools to act in innovative and highly differentiated ways, always guided by deep respect for individual autonomy, personal culture, religion and beliefs.

Traditional, Complementary and alternative medicine; Biomedicine; Person-centred medicine; Personalised medicine; Prediction; Prevention; Salutogenesis; Health-care reform; Health-care education; Therapeutic relationship