Integration of complementary and alternative medicine in primary care: what do patients want?

Patient Educ Couns. 2012 Dec;89(3):417-22. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2012.08.013. Epub 2012 Sep 30.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health
  • Complementary Therapies / organization & administration*
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / organization & administration*
  • Disclosure
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Patient Preference*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult