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Treat or treatment: a qualitative study analyzing patients' use of complementary and alternative medicine

Bishop, Felicity L., Yardley, Lucy and Lewith, George T. (2008) Treat or treatment: a qualitative study analyzing patients' use of complementary and alternative medicine American Journal of Public Health, 98, (9), pp. 1700-1705. (doi:10.2105/AJPH.2007.110072). (PMID:18172145).

Record type: Article


Objectives: we analyzed how patients use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and examined how patients' perspectives relate to existing, expertled taxonomies.

Methods: we conducted semistructured interviews with 46 people who used CAM in southern England, then performed a qualitative thematic analysis of the interviews.

Results: CAM appeared to be used in 4 different ways: as treats, and as alternative, complementary, or conventional treatments. Treats were portrayed as personal luxuries, not directed at an identified health need. Systematic differences in the context, anticipated benefits, and implications for financial justification were revealed when nonmedical therapies were viewed and used as alternative, complementary, or conventional treatments. Specific CAM practices were viewed and used in different ways by different participants.

Conclusions: some participants used CAM practices as a personal luxury, not as a health care technology. This is incongruent with existing expert-led taxonomies. Physicians and researchers need to be aware that patients' views of what constitutes CAM can differ radically from their own. They should choose their terminology carefully to initiate meaningful dialogue with their patients and research participants.

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More information

Published date: September 2008
Keywords: access to care, social science, qualitative research
Organisations: Community Clinical Sciences, Psychology


Local EPrints ID: 54770
PURE UUID: 9936e7c3-decb-48c0-adac-37b2f05eb0eb
ORCID for Felicity L. Bishop: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 04 Aug 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:34

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