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Patient. 2011;4(2):89-101. doi: 10.2165/11586490-000000000-00000.

Great expectations: what do patients using complementary and alternative medicine hope for?

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Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.


The aim of this review is to summarize the published evidence regarding the expectations of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) users. We conducted electronic searches in MEDLINE and a hand search of our own files. Seventy-three articles met our inclusion criteria. A wide range of expectations emerged. In order of prevalence, they included hope to influence the natural history of the disease; disease prevention and health/general well-being promotion; fewer side effects; being in control over one's health; symptom relief; boosting the immune system; emotional support; holistic care; improving quality of life; relief of side effects of conventional medicine; good therapeutic relationship; obtaining information; coping better with illness; supporting the natural healing process; and availability of treatment. It is concluded that the expectations of CAM users are currently not rigorously investigated. Future studies should have a clear focus on specific aspects of this broad question.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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