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Journal of the Union of Scientists - Varna. Medicine and Ecology Series

Integrative medicine—designing holistic conceptual model

Desislava Vankova


Introduction: Integrative approaches in medicine are becoming increasingly popular due to the health promotion revival and the evidence-based clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Therefore, a clear definition of the “integrative medicine” realm is fundamental. In medical science, models are created for research, educational and health policy reasons.

Aim: The aim is to present a holistic conceptual model of integrative medicine, created as the first stage of a mixed-methods study in an educational context.

Materials and Methods: Conceptual modelling is applied after a review in PubMed with keywords: “integrative medicine,”, “concept“, “model“; targeted qualitative content analysis of the existing definitions and models of integrative medicine.

Presenting the Holistic Conceptual Model of Integrative Medicine

The created model includes five building blocks: medical education, evidence-based medicine, conventional medicine, CAM, and health promotion. The model is defined according to the three characteristics of integrative medicine such as philosophy, structure, and process. Three principles are synthesized that support and would ensure the sustainability of the model—coherence; heterogeneity, equality, tolerance; efficiency and effectiveness.


Conclusion: Integrative medicine is not just a combination medicine (between CAM and conventional medicine), but a highly organized system using all possible methods for the benefit of personal and public health. Today, integrative health encompasses also the health promotion idea of “One Health” and the theory of the exposome.


integrative science, integrative medicine, holistic conceptual model, education, social medicine

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