BACKGROUNDDespite the substantive literature from survey research that has accumulated on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the United States and elsewhere, very little research has been done to assess conceptual domains that CAM and conventional providers would emphasize in CAM survey studies. The objective of this study is to describe and interpret the results of concept mapping with conventional and CAM practitioners from a variety of backgrounds on the topic of CAM.METHODSConcept mapping, including free sorts, ratings, and multidimensional scaling was used to organize conceptual domains relevant to CAM into a visual "cluster map." The panel consisted of CAM providers, conventional providers, and university faculty, and was convened to help formulate conceptual domains to guide the development of a CAM survey for use with United States military veterans.RESULTSEight conceptual clusters were identified: 1) Self-assessment, Self-care, and Quality of Life; 2) Health Status, Health Behaviors; 3) Self-assessment of Health; 4) Practical/Economic/ Environmental Concerns; 5) Needs Assessment; 6) CAM vs. Conventional Medicine; 7) Knowledge of CAM; and 8) Experience with CAM. The clusters suggest panelists saw interactions between CAM and conventional medicine as a critical component of the current medical landscape.CONCLUSIONSConcept mapping provided insight into how CAM and conventional providers view the domain of health care, and was shown to be a useful tool in the formulation of CAM-related conceptual domains.