General practitioners, complementary therapies and evidence-based medicine: the defence of clinical autonomy

Complement Ther Med. 2000 Dec;8(4):248-52. doi: 10.1054/ctim.2000.0396.


Amidst the substantial change currently gripping primary health care are two developments central to contemporary debate regarding the very nature, territory and identity of general practice - the integration of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and the rise of evidence-based medicine (EBM). This paper reports findings from a study based upon 25 in-depth interviews with general practitioners (GPs) personally practising complementary therapies alongside more conventional medicine to treat their NHS patients. The paper outlines the GPs' perceptions of EBM, its relationship to their personal development of CAM, and their notions of good clinical practice more generally. Analysis of the GPs' accounts demonstrates how CAM can be seen as a useful resource with which some GPs defend their clinical autonomy from what they perceive to be the threat of EBM.

MeSH terms

  • Complementary Therapies*
  • England
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Family Practice*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • National Health Programs
  • Professional Autonomy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires