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Soc Sci Med. 1998 May;46(9):1213-25.

Canadian naturopathic practitioners: holistic and scientific world views.

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Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


This paper describes naturopathic practitioners with two different world views--holistic and scientific, and explores the relationship of practitioners' socialization experiences and practice patterns with these two world views. Data were gathered by a variety of methods including: (1) a 14-page questionnaire mailed to all 296 naturopathic practitioners licensed in Canada; (2) a participant observation study at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM); and (3) open-ended interviews with 16 students attending CCNM and 41 naturopathic practitioners which were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Individuals with both holistic and scientific world views entered naturopathic training and none of the practitioners who were interviewed reported a change in world view while at naturopathic college. However, practitioners reported a new-found appreciation of the "other" world view on completion of their training, indicating the occurrence of a socialization effect. Many decisions involved in setting up a practice and seeing patients were affected by the practitioners' world views. For example, there were distinct differences in the way the practitioners with different world views who were interviewed chose treatment modalities. Practitioners with scientific world views reported choosing treatments based on the available "scientific evidence", while practitioners with holistic world views included a careful exploration of the patient's spirituality and their own intuition in their treatment decisions. In addition, practitioners with holistic world views reported significantly longer patient visits than practitioners with scientific world views. The data presented here suggest that one's world view influences one's perceptions of socialization experiences and social situations, and modulates the effects of both on practice patterns.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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