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Justifications for using complementary and alternative medicine reported by persons with musculoskeletal conditions: A narrative literature synthesis

Corp, Nadia; Jordan, Joanne L.; Croft, Peter R.

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Authors

Peter R. Croft



Abstract

BACKGROUND: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is very popular with patients frequently combining it with orthodox health care. The high prevalence of CAM use and satisfaction with CAM reported by patients directly challenges an orthodox system that can only approve such use if it results from the application of biomedical concepts and science. Studies highlighting this as a cultural, sociological and historical phenomenon emphasise the value of choice for consumers of health care. Musculoskeletal conditions typify common problems for which the effectiveness of orthodox care is often unclear. We postulated that the reasons people give for using or not using CAM for musculoskeletal conditions, would therefore indicate the full range of expectations that people have of health care. Furthermore, these reasons would indicate how much people feel orthodox health care is or is not meeting their expectations. Therefore, this study aims to investigate people's reasons for choosing or avoiding CAM for non-traumatic musculoskeletal conditions. METHODS: A systematic search and narrative synthesis was conducted of published qualitative and quantitative studies related to CAM and non-traumatic musculoskeletal conditions. RESULTS: We identified 169 relevant papers detailing 152 separate studies, from which 1486 justifications were extracted concerning CAM use. Content analysis resulted in 11 distinct categories across four themes: practical aspects of care, clinical effectiveness, non-clinical outcomes of care, and a person's philosophy of illness and care. People provided similar rationales for both using and avoiding CAM, emphasising that, whilst CAM is perceived by many patients with musculoskeletal conditions to fill gaps in care (such as practitioner time or quality of the therapeutic relationship), orthodox care also seeks to deliver these aspects of care. However, people who used CAM also highlighted its alignment with their general philosophy and ideas about illness and health care, and often emphasised CAM's capacity to give them control over their condition and its treatment. CONCLUSION: Currently, CAM appears to have a significant role for patients with common painful long-term conditions in providing choices to enable individual needs to be met.

Citation

Corp, N., Jordan, J. L., & Croft, P. R. (2018). Justifications for using complementary and alternative medicine reported by persons with musculoskeletal conditions: A narrative literature synthesis. PloS one, 13(7), Article e0200879. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0200879

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 28, 2018
Publication Date Jul 19, 2018
Journal PLOS ONE
Print ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 7
Article Number e0200879
DOI https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0200879
Publisher URL http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0200879

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