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Beyond a Generic Complementary and Alternative Medicine: The Holistic Health Care- Conventional Medicine Continuum

Beyond a Generic Complementary and Alternative Medicine: The Holistic Health Care- Conventional Medicine Continuum


This article explores whether complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) users view CAM as a unified concept or individualize the modalities. A survey about the beliefs and concerns surrounding the use of 22 CAM modalities was posted to a random sample of 1,308 people in five rural and two metropolitan localities in Victoria, Australia. The response rate was 40% (n = 459). Overall, 91% of respondents were found to either have used one CAM modality (85%, n = 386) or be open to future use (6%, n = 33). Respondents did not view CAM as a unified concept. Each modality was used by people with different characteristics and beliefs about health care. However, it was practical to divide the 22 CAM modalities into four categories that we have named natural remedy, wellness, accepted, and established modalities. The four categories lie along a set of continua extending from natural remedy modalities and ‘‘holistic health care’’ beliefs at one end to established modalities and a belief in the tenets of conventional medicine at the other. We were able to develop a model to show this diagrammatically.
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