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Health Place. 2003 Dec;9(4):337-49.

Placing the consumption of private complementary medicine: everyday geographies of older peoples' use.

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Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, 50 St George Street, Toronto, Ont., Canada M5S 3H.


Using a combined questionnaire and interview survey of older users of complementary medicine, an interpretative framework is developed to examine their consumer behaviour. Collectively, three inter-related levels of interpretation provide a detailed description of complementary medicine as a consumer experience very much associated with particular places and settings. First, structural features of two local private sectors are investigated, including the different organisational modes and local cultures of provision. Second, experiential features are investigated, including how treatment impacts on older users' use of space and on their personal mobility. Third, conceptual features are investigated, including how older users articulate the belief systems associated with complementary medicine. Overlying these levels are a wide-variety of therapeutic settings that make up the total therapeutic experience. These range in scale from the micro-level of clinics and users' homes to the macro-level of towns. The paper unravels the complex, individualized, dispersed and everyday consumer geographies associated with these emerging forms of health care, highlights the intimate dynamics that exist between places and care and showcases how these may be effectively mapped by using qualitative methods and a critical theoretical framework.

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