Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Reprofessionalisation of Medical Doctors in Portugal

Friday, July 18, 2014: 9:06 AM
Room: 414
Oral Presentation
Joana ALMEIDA , Centre for Criminology & Sociology, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom
The aim of this paper is to present an ongoing project entitled ‘Towards the camisation of health? A theoretical and empirical framework for analysis’. My previous research focused on the countervailing power of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners in relation to Portuguese mainstream healthcare, having acupuncture and homeopathy as two case studies. It also developed the concept of ‘camisation’, which refers to the process of legitimising CAM treatments and solutions for everyday human problems. Furthermore, it analysed the attitudes of key actors within healthcare towards camisation. For example, although the position of the Portuguese medical profession towards camisation has been fluid and changeable over time, there has been a growing number of medical doctors ‘incorporating’ (Saks, 1995) CAM into their medical practice as a strategy to cope with CAM practitioners’ encroachment into Portuguese healthcare. Acupuncture and homeopathy, for example, have been incorporated by Portuguese medical profession both at the institutional and interactional level. This paper aims to theoretically explore the consequences of medical incorporation of CAM for the medical profession, from the point of view of the sociology of professions. The topic of reprofessionalisation of medical doctors who committed themselves to CAM therapies is under-explored in the sub-field of sociology of CAM and might be useful to understand recent trends within the medical profession in Portugal. Reprofessionalisation means the restructuration of education and redefinition of boundaries of knowledge. This paper discusses the extent to which the incorporation of CAM by the medical profession can be viewed as reprofessionalisation, in order to meet new challenges and threats posed by camisation and CAM therapies.