Contextualized Autonomy and Liberalism: Broadening the Lenses on Complementary and Alternative Medicines in Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease
- Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 27, Number 1, March 2017
- pp. 1-41
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Given advances in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research, some experts have proposed a state of “preclinical” AD to describe asymptomatic individuals displaying certain biomarkers. The diagnostic accuracy of these biomarkers remains debated; however, given economic pressures, this “diagnosis” may eventually reach consumers. Since evidence-based prevention and treatment options remain only modestly effective, patients may turn to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). We explore ethical challenges associated with CAM use in preclinical AD. We first consider these issues through the liberal lens, which emphasizes informed choice while occasionally disregarding the complexity of decision making, at least as currently applied to CAM policies. We then broaden the liberal lens with a socio–contextual lens, which describes the impact of social context on choice. Finally, we describe an alternate lens (contextualized liberalism) and its practical health and policy implications while 1) building on the liberal commitment to autonomy and 2) recognizing contextual determinants of choice.