Challenges in the Ethical Review of Research Involving Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Jeffrey A. Cooper, David Borasky, Stephen Rosenfeld, Jeremy Sugarman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) involves using practices outside mainstream Western medicine, often derived from Eastern traditional medicine, and combining those practices with Western medicine. Conducting CIM research that is necessary to determine whether particular interventions are beneficial and safe will involve a set of ethical challenges. Institutional review boards (IRBs), also known as research ethics committees or research ethics boards, are responsible for determining that research studies involving human subjects appropriately address ethical and regulatory concerns inherent to the research. Like other research with human subjects, research involving CIM is subject to ethical review and ongoing oversight by an IRB. IRBs are often challenged by the review of CIM. These challenges include accounting for cultural differences and the interests of competing stakeholders. In this report, we describe these issues that were the focus of a workshop that was part of an international conference held in Seoul, Korea, on April 4, 2015.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-341
Number of pages5
JournalTherapeutic Innovation and Regulatory Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Korea
  • complementary and alternative medicine
  • ethical review
  • traditional medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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