Toward a sociological understanding of complementary and alternative medicine use

J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Jul;14(6):777-83. doi: 10.1089/acm.2007.7006.


Background and objectives: The wide array of treatments and modalities comprising complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) represent a growing option for many individuals. Seeking to better understand this, much research has centered on identifying sociodemographic (e.g., age, gender, race) or social-psychologic (e.g., absorption, depression, coping) correlates of using CAM therapies. In contrast, sociological perspectives recognize the influence of larger-scale, external forces on individuals' motivations to seek alternative or complementary care.

Aim: This paper, then, illustrates current and potential sociological approaches to understanding CAM use, and the importance of social forces that influence persons' decisions to utilize (or not) "unconventional" medical care.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Humans
  • Psychology