Attitudes of Arab and Jewish patients toward integration of complementary medicine in primary care clinics in Israel: a cross-cultural study

Soc Sci Med. 2009 Jan;68(1):177-82. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.10.004. Epub 2008 Nov 5.


The purpose of this cross-cultural study was to evaluate patient perspectives on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) integration within primary care clinics. It is one of the first multiethnic studies to explore patients' perspectives on the best model for integrating CAM into the conventional care setting. We developed a 13-item questionnaire that addresses issues of CAM use, expectations from the primary care physicians concerning CAM, and attitudes toward CAM integration within a patient's primary care clinic. We constructed the questionnaire with cross-cultural sensitivity concerning the core concepts of CAM and traditional medicine in both the Arab and Jewish communities in northern Israel. Data for statistical analysis were obtained from 3840 patients attending seven primary care clinics. Of the 3713 respondents who were willing to identify their religion, 2184 defined themselves as Muslims, Christians, or Druze and 1529 as Jews. Respondents in the two groups were equally distributed by sex but differed significantly by age, education, self-rated religiosity, and self-reported chronic diseases in their medical background. Respondents in the two groups reported comparable overall CAM use during the previous year, but the Arab respondents reported more use of herbs and traditional medicine. Respondents in both groups stated that their primary expectation from a family physician concerning CAM was to refer them appropriately and safely to a CAM practitioner. Respondents in both groups greatly supported a theoretical scenario of CAM integration into primary medical care. However, Arab respondents were more supportive of the option that non-physician CAM practitioners would provide CAM rather than physicians.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arabs / psychology*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Community Health Centers
  • Complementary Therapies / organization & administration*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Jews / psychology*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Religion and Medicine
  • Young Adult