The New Trend in Health Care: Motivations, Perceptions, and Care Coordination in Integrative Medicine

Brian Lee, Union College - Schenectady, NY


Integrative medicine (IM) has been a new approach to health care that has increasingly emerged over the past two decades in America. This care approach focuses on patient-centered care, preventative health, care coordination, and includes practitioners from both Western and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Unfortunately, the emergence of IM can be hindered by differences in medical paradigms and stereotypes between Western and CAM practitioners. These differences and false perceptions have prevented IM, an effective form of care, from being offered to many patients. However, the number of IM centers has been increasing over the recent years and there has not been research on how Western and CAM-based practitioners perceive IM when working in the same clinical setting.

This thesis focuses on the experiences and attitudes of CAM providers delivering IM with practitioners from different medical backgrounds. Face-to-face interviews and questionnaires to self-selected samples from local IM centers are conducted. The results suggest that CAM providers are motivated to integrate care because of positive personal experiences with IM and the collective expertise that can be used to deliver better care. Perceptions of CAM practitioners have also shifted in time from not desiring working relationships with Western providers to valuing highly their care approaches. The findings from CAM respondents reveal that they can coordinate care effectively with providers who have different medical paradigms in the same IM center. Further research would be benefitted by a larger and more representative sample as well as comparative analyses with conventional and CAM care outcomes.


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