Objective: To explore patients' perspectives towards integration of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in primary care.
Methods: A mixed-methods approach was used. This included a survey on use, attitudes and disclosure of CAM, an e-panel consultation and focus group among patients with joint diseases.
Results: A total of 416 patients responded to the survey who suffered from osteoarthritis (51%), rheumatoid arthritis (29%) or fibromyalgia (24%). Prevalence of CAM use was 86%, of which 71% visited a CAM practitioner. Manual therapies, acupuncture and homeopathy were most frequently used. A minority (30%) actively communicated CAM use with their General Practitioner (GP). The majority (92%) preferred a GP who informed about CAM, 70% a GP who referred to CAM, and 42% wanted GPs to collaborate with CAM practitioners. Similar attitudes were found in the focus group and upon e-panel consultation.
Conclusions: Most patients in primary care want a GP who listens, inquires about CAM and if necessary refers to or collaborates with CAM practitioners.
Practice implications: To meet needs of patients, primary care disease management would benefit from an active involvement of GPs concerning CAM communication/referral. This study presents a model addressing the role of patients and GPs within such an integrative approach.
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