homeprevious reportswatch onlineusteacher centernewsletteremail FRONTLINEFRONTLINE (home)
the alternative fix


Pre-Viewing Lesson Plan
  • What is Complementary and Alternative Medicine?
  • Student Handout: What is Alternative and Complementary Medicine?

  • Viewing Lesson Plan
  • Student Viewing Guides
  • Student Handout: True and False Questions
  • Student Handout: Short Answers

  • Post-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • Regulating Drugs: The Creation of the FDA
  • The Progressive Era: Public Pressure and Government Actions

  • Internet Resources

    Printable .pdf of Entire Guide
    (Adobe Acrobat required)

    » Pre-Viewing Lesson Plan

    What is Complementary
     and Alternative Medicine?

    This lesson will take 50-60 minutes.

    » Materials Needed:

    Students will need Internet access, writing materials and student handouts.

    » Lesson Objectives:

    In this lesson, students will:

    • Evaluate their understanding of alternative medicines
    • Compare complementary medicine and alternative medicine
    • Examine five categories of CAM therapies
    • Research the popularity of these therapies
    • Share their research findings with their classmates

    » Procedure:

    Part One:
    • Write the word "alternative" on the board and ask the students to define it. Try to get the response that it means a choice outside of the norm.
    • Now add the word "medicine" and ask students to brainstorm different kinds of alternative medicines.
    • Finally ask students to guess how many Americans use this form of medicine. Tell them that in a survey, 33 percent of Americans reported using alternative medicines.

    Part Two:

    Divide the students into five groups and assign each group to research one of the following categories of alternative medicine as defined on the NCCAM Web site: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/

    • Alternative Medical Systems
    • Mind-body Interventions
    • Biologically Based Therapies
    • Manipulative and Body-based Methods
    • Energy Therapies

    Point out to the students that there are two sections to the student handout.

    • Tell them to research Section I on the handout as a group.
    • Tell them to research Section II on the handout independently.
    • Each of the five groups of students should present a short research report to their classmates.
    • Invite the students to consider what impact the "placebo effect" has on studies involving alternative medicine. Explain that when people believe a therapy will work, they may sense an improvement. This is a phenomenon known as the placebo effect and it makes it difficult to verify if the patient is actually improving. For more information on the placebo effect, point students to "The Placebo Effect" on "The Alternative Fix" Web site.

    » Method of Assessment

    Students should turn in their research handout and the notes they take during the group presentations.

    Media Literacy Note: Students need to be aware that Web sites sometimes present only one view of an issue. They should be encouraged to interrogate Web sites even as they are reading. Guiding questions as they work through these activities should be: What did you learn from this site? Who sponsors this site? What bias might the sponsor have?

    home » previous reports » watch online » about us » teacher center » newsletter » email FRONTLINE
    privacy policy » wgbh » pbsi

    web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation