Background. Theory and clinical practice suggest that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) decision-making processes may differ from those used in conventional medicine. If so, understanding the differences could improve patient-provider communication around treatment options. Objectives. To examine patient-oriented decision-making processes relative to CAM use. Population. Adults with chronic rheumatological disorders who utilize allopathic medicine only, CAM only, or both. Method. An exploratory, cross-sectional naturalistic design with thematic and content analyses. Results. Three distinct decision paths were developed, differing substantially on the importance of provider trust, disease severity/prognosis, willingness to experiment, intuitive/spiritual factors, and outcomes evidence. Conclusions. These divergent decision paths indicate the possibility of "alternative patients," not just "alternative therapies." Since informed decisions, tailored to the patient, would likely lead to sustainable improvements in health care outcomes, the findings may facilitate providers' capacity to effectively advise patients about treatment alternatives and CAM use.
- Complementary and alternative medicine
- Decision making
- Qualitative methods
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy