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Soc Sci Med. 2002 Sep;55(6):1025-37.

An investigation of the health beliefs and motivations of complementary medicine clients.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ont., Canada.


The current study was concerned with factors associated with the use of complementary medicine (CM). The reasons for CM use were examined by dividing complementary medicine clients into two groups based on the frequency and length of their use of complementary therapies, and comparing them with conventional medicine clients as well as to each other. New/infrequent CM clients (n = 70), established CM clients (n = 71), and orthodox medicine clients (n = 58) were distinguished on the basis of health beliefs, socio-demographic, medical, and personality variables. Different patterns of predictors of CM use emerged depending on which client groups were compared. In general, health-aware behaviors and dissatisfaction with conventional medicine were the best predictors of overall and initial/ infrequent CM use, and more frequent health-aware behaviors were associated with continued CM use. Medical need also influenced the choice to use CM, and was the best predictor of committed CM use, with the established CM clients reporting more health problems than the new/infrequent CM group. Overall, income was a significant discriminator, but did not predict initial or continued CM use. Openness to new experience was associated with CM use in general, but was most notable in the decision to initially try or explore using CM. The findings support the utility of the three components (predisposing, enabling, and need factors) of the socio-behavioral model for explaining why some people choose CM. Overall, the results of the current study suggest that CM clients need to be looked at in more sophisticated ways, rather than being treated simply as a homogenous group with similar beliefs, motivations and needs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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