Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Melinda Goldner




cam, doctor, care, communication, doctors


The introduction of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in the United States has recently led to increased interest in this topic. CAM encompasses a range of health care approaches that attempt to maintain or prevent illness, such as herbal supplements and acupuncture. The integrative health care movement, which is the integration of CAM with conventional medicine, has been rapidly growing among both health care providers and health care consumers, because most consumers use both types of medicine. Despite this growth, there are barriers to the acceptance and integration of CAM, including the inability of doctors to communicate with patients about this topic. Although there have been numerous studies analyzing components of doctor-patient communication in the context of conventional medicine, this thesis focused on analyzing the components of doctor-patient communication in the context of CAM. Roughly two hundred surveys were administered in order to analyze (1) what CAM users believed to be the most essential elements of doctor-patient communication (2) who was initiating the conversations regarding CAM use and finally (3) how comfortable patients felt discussing their current or potential CAM use with their doctors. Results suggest that most CAM users started using these therapies on their own, without the referral from any doctor, and that in conversations between CAM users and doctors, CAM use was frequently never discussed. Despite these results, most respondents said that they were relatively comfortable discussing CAM with their doctors, regardless of the fact that these conversations were not actually taking place. Potential implications and solutions to these findings are discussed in terms of how to most effectively improve doctor-patient communication in light of growing CAM usage.