rusq: Vol. 52 Issue 2: p. 169
Sources: Salem Health: Complementary & Alternative Medicine
Maria C. Melssen

Medical Librarian, Port Clinton, Ohio

There are numerous publications written on the topic of complementary and alternative medicine. Titles such as The Alternative Health and Medicine Encyclopedia (Gale, 1998) are written at a level best suited for consumers while others, such as A–Z of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: a Guide for Health Professionals (Churchill Livingstone, 2009), are more appropriate for health care professionals. Salem Health: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Salem, 2012) aims to provide a comprehensive, authoritative resource for medical professionals and students, as well as the general consumer (ix). Capriccioso and Moglia’s work is well organized, authoritative, and comprehensive. The 782 entries are arranged in alphabetical order by topic and vary in length. Each entry includes a list of further reading and the contributor’s name, as well as charts, pictures, other images, informational sidebars, and see also references when available. Each entry has a set format based on the category the entry falls under. Categories range from “Therapies and Techniques” to “Organizations and Legislation.” For example, entries under the category of “Drug Interactions” include the definition of the drug, a list of other drugs and other interactions, drugs in this family, and further information about each of the drug interactions. This set formatting makes the work easier to follow and navigate.

One of the major strengths of this work is the multiple appendixes. These include online access, “Reference Tools” (glossary, bibliography, list of further resources, and website directory), “Historical Resources” (timeline of significant moments in complementary and alternative medicine and biographical dictionary of individuals who have made an impact on complementary and alternative medicine), and multiple indexes. An additional strength is the strong editorial board and contributors. The entries are “written by professors and professional medial writers for non-specialists” (ix). Though these qualities make an excellent encyclopedia, the general consumer will find this text challenging to read and to navigate. Without prior knowledge of basic medical terminology or a medical dictionary on hand, this work is too complicated for a general user. Medical jargon, such as detailed analysis of research trials, occurs frequently in the text. An example of this can be found in the entry “Sexual Dysfunction in Men.” Though a student or practitioner who is familiar with reading research studies will find entries such as these of immense value, the general consumer will find them challenging. Current works such as The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine (Cengage Learning, 2009) or The Duke Encyclopedia of New Medicine: Conventional and Alternative Medicines for All Ages (Rodale, 2006) are more appropriate for consumer health collections.

An area of concern with Capriccioso and Moglia’s work is the lack of proper citations in entries which reference data from specific studies, such as “Chromium” and “Skin, Aging.” Footnotes, endnotes, or any other citations are not provided for references made in the entries. One is left to assume that the references listed in “Further Reading” could be the studies referred to in the entries; however, without reading the articles listed in “Further Reading” there is no way to be sure. Though discussing various research studies adds an evidence-based quality to this work, the lack of proper citations calls into question the authoritative value. Despite this drawback, libraries that serve health care professionals and students in the health sciences will find this encyclopedia a welcome addition to their reference collections.



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