Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Reflections on the Unexpected Depth of a Problem

By John Dwyer

Professor John Dwyer reflects on changes to Australia’s health climate and the continuing influence of complementary and alternative health practices.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

In 2011 several colleagues and I, concerned that in this most scientific of ages a number of Australian universities were providing undeserved credibility for approaches to health care based on “pseudoscientific” concepts of physiology and pathology, formed Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM). The organisation would promote the need for health care in Australia to be underpinned by credible scientific evidence of clinical effectiveness. I have recently finished my term as the Foundation President of the organisation and have had some time to reflect on the learnings and challenges for FSM as it continues its advocacy.

In 2011 some universities were supporting courses providing credibility for homeopathy, “energy medicine”, “healing touch” therapies, chiropractic subluxation and acupuncture for a myriad of conditions as well as pre-scientific concepts integral to modern “traditional Chinese medicine”. Our concern was twofold: the obvious threat to the highest standards of scientific endeavours in our universities, and the need to protect consumers from fraudulent, often dangerous health care. This latter concern soon had us examining the broader consumer protection landscape and the effectiveness of government-established regulatory agencies charged with this responsibility in health-related areas.

Eight years later, two outstanding primary weaknesses are...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.