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Revista de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1518-8787Print version ISSN 0034-8910


TESSER, Charles Dalcanale  and  BARROS, Nelson Filice de. Social medicalization and alternative and complementary medicine: the pluralization of health services in the Brazilian Unified Health System. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2008, vol.42, n.5, pp.914-920. ISSN 1518-8787.

Social medicalization transforms people's habits, discourages them from finding their own solutions to certain health problems and places an excess demand on the Unified Health System. With regard to healthcare provision, an alternative to social medicalization is the pluralization of treatment provided by health institutions namely through the recognition and provision of alternative and complementary practices and medicines. The objective of the article was to analyze the potentials and difficulties of alternative and complementary practices and medicines based on clinical and institutional experiences and on the specialist literature. The research concludes that the potential of such a strategy to "demedicalize" is limited and should be included in the remit of the Unified Health System. The article highlights that the Biosciences retain a political and epistemiological hegemony over medicine and that the area of healthcare is dominated by market principles, whereby there is a trend towards the transformation of any kind of knowledge or structured practice related to health-illness processes into goods or procedures to be consumed, and this only reinforces heteronomy and medicalization.

Keywords : Social Medicine; Health Services Needs and Demand; Complementary Therapies [utilization]; Single Health System; Health Services; Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice.

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