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Integrated medicine in the management of chronic illness: a qualitative study

Brien, S., Bishop, F.L., Riggs, K., Stevenson, D., Freire, V. and Lewith, G.T. (2011) Integrated medicine in the management of chronic illness: a qualitative study British Journal of General Practice, 61, (583), e89-e96. (doi:10.3399/bjgp11X556254). (PMID:21276333).

Record type: Article


Background: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is popular with patients, yet how patients use CAM in relation to orthodox medicine (OM) is poorly understood.

Aim: To explore how patients integrate CAM and OM when self-managing chronic illness.

Design of study: Qualitative analysis of interviews.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals attending private CAM practices in the UK, who had had a chronic benign condition for 12 months and were using CAM alongside OM for more than 3 months. Patients were selected to create a maximum variation sample. The interviews were analysed using framework analysis.

Results: Thirty five patient interviews were conducted and seven categories of use were identified: using CAM to facilitate OM use; using OM to support long-term CAM use; using CAM to reduce OM; using CAM to avoid OM; using CAM to replace OM; maximising relief using both CAM and OM; and returning to OM. Participants described initiating CAM use following a perceived lack of suitable orthodox treatment. Participants rejecting OM for a specific condition never totally rejected OM in favour of CAM.

Conclusion: Patients utilise CAM and OM in identifiably different ways, individualising and integrating both approaches to manage their chronic conditions. To support patients and prevent potential adverse interactions, open dialogue between patients, OM practitioners, and CAM practitioners must be improved.

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More information

Published date: February 2011
Keywords: complementary medicine, chronic disease, qualitative
Organisations: Primary Care & Population Sciences


Local EPrints ID: 181919
ISSN: 0960-1643
PURE UUID: 9229b428-0a5c-4093-aa5f-9eedf171392a
ORCID for F.L. Bishop: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 26 Apr 2011 09:07
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:58

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Author: S. Brien
Author: F.L. Bishop ORCID iD
Author: K. Riggs
Author: D. Stevenson
Author: V. Freire
Author: G.T. Lewith

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