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Students: Dissertation: Christa Louise

Christa Louise

At the beginning of the 20th century, specific, pathophysiologically-based disease processes were the predominant causes of morbidity and mortality. Today, in developed societies, morbidity is often a result of somatic and non-specific illnesses which have multifactorial etiologies, affect multiple systems of the body, and for which a specific pathophysiological indicator does not exist. These chronic, somatic, illnesses often do not respond well to the kinds of specific therapies which characterize allopathic medicine. However, there is some evidence to suggest that these illnesses are responsive to the multifaceted therapies of naturopathic medicine.

Naturopathic medicine works at various levels to promote three kinds of effects: Specific effects which are presumed to result from treatment targeted at a particular pathology; general effects which are believed to improve the body's ability to respond to daily disruptions; and mind/body ("non-specific") effects which recognize the power of the mind in the health/illness process. The re-emergence of naturopathic medicine calls for research into the effectiveness of naturopathic therapies. While various institutions are examining the specific (biomedical) effects of naturopathic medicine, there has been little research regarding its general and non-specific effects.

Research methodologies follow from the paradigms under which scientists operate. To develop methodologies which will allow investigation of general and non-specific effects, an expanded paradigm must be adopted. This new paradigm must incorporate systems principles and allow exploration of other principles which may help explain mind/body effects.

This dissertation explores the correspondence of systems principles with naturopathic philosophy. An empirical model examining the general effects of naturopathic medicine is developed and parts of it are tested. Results indicate that age, the reason for seeking naturopathic care, and adherence to treatment account for 28% of the variance in outcome (SF-36). Research approaches incorporating systems principles are suggested. A non-linear system dynamics model is created to illustrate the mind/body connection and promotion of mind/body and general effects through naturopathic therapies. Phenomena are described which must be considered in the development of a theory to account for mind/body effects. Finally, questions are raised regarding the limits to knowledge obtained via reductionist analysis.

Friday, April 28, 2000
Nancy A. Perrin, Chair
Kerth O’Brien
Anna MacIntosh
Wayne W. Wakeland
Leslie McBride, Graduate Studies Rep.