Dissertation Information for Barbara Campbell
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: Growth of the medical research literature on non-Western medicine as indexed by the National Library of Medicine from 1966-1993: An example of a scientific paradigm change
Abstract: The main purpose of this study is first to document and explain the process of scientific paradigm change and cross-cultural scientific communication using the growth and origins of the literature on non-Western medicine from 1966 to 1993 and second to test a series of theoretical assumptions about paradigm change. Bibliometric analysis of growth of the literature and content analysis of televised interviews, content analysis of published interviews, and journalists' reports on non-Western and alternative medicine were used to support a series of theoretical assumptions taken from the literature on scientific paradigm change and the sociology of science. Content analysis of medical research articles coded by MEDLINE as having specific MESH headings on philosophy and medical models coupled with analysis of all the clinical trials as well as selected journal articles published in referred serials yielded confirmation that a paradigm change in biomedicine is in progress. 15,561 references were downloaded in MEDLARS format from the CD-Plus version of Medline recoded and graphed. Findings indicate a 1,582 percent increase in the number of articles on non-Western medicine from 1966 to 1992. It was found that because biomedicine lacks an underlying theory of how the body works one sees a crumbling of the biomedical model itself as anomalies such as acupuncture treatment cannot be explained. The main catalyst for change is initially triggered by external factors not internal ones and it is possible to identify specific events mentioned in the literature. Cross-cultural exchanges and fact gathering missions are published serving to motivate more and more researchers to investigate new models and question the prevailing paradigm. Debate occurs along a continuum. Shifts occur when the new paradigm is found to solve more problems than the old. Allegiances are formed almost immediately and rival camps are often adversaries who resent the attention the other group receives. Change takes place over decades. Skeptics do not accept results until they are verified outside of the field in question. Proponents are influenced by political propaganda and economic factors. Language, culture and one's own personal experiences all serve as barriers to scientific communication.
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