Patient-reported experiences with first-time naturopathic care for type 2 diabetes

PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e48549. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048549. Epub 2012 Nov 7.


Differences in the effectiveness of diverse healthcare providers to promote health behavior change and successful diabetes self-care have received little attention. Because training in naturopathic medicine (NM) emphasizes a patient-centered approach, health promotion, and routine use of clinical counseling on wellness and prevention, naturopathic physicians (NDs) may be particularly well-prepared for promoting behavior change. However, patients' experiences with NM have not been well studied. This study provides the first report of the perceptions of persons with type 2 diabetes of their first experiences with naturopathic care for their diabetes. Following their participation in a one-year prospective cohort study of adjunctive naturopathic care for diabetes, twenty-two patients were interviewed about their experiences working with a naturopathic physician. Using a content analysis approach, nine dominant themes were identified. Three themes characterized the nature of the ND-patient interaction: 1) patient-centered, 2) holistic health rather than diabetes focused, and 3) collaborative. Five themes characterized the content of the clinical encounter: 1) individualized and detailed health promotion, 2) counseling that promoted self-efficacy, 3) pragmatic and practical self-care recommendations, 4) novel treatment options that fostered hopefulness, and 5) patient education that addressed both diabetes self-care and general health. A ninth theme was cross-cutting: the contrast between ND care and conventional medical care. Results indicate that the routine clinical approach used by NDs is consistent with behavior change theory and clinical strategies found most effective in promoting self-efficacy and improving clinical outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Counseling
  • Demography
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Planning Guidelines
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Naturopathy*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Self Care