Objectives: To explore the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for infertility in a multicultural healthcare setting and to compare Western and non-Western infertility patients' reasons for using CAM and the meanings they attribute to CAM use.
Design: Qualitative semi-structured interviews using thematic analysis.
Settings/location: Two infertility clinics in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Participants: An ethnoculturally varied sample of 32 heterosexual infertile couples.
Results: CAM used included lifestyle changes (e.g., changing diet, exercise), alternative medicine (e.g., acupuncture, herbal medicines), and religious methods (e.g., prayers, religious talismans). Patients expressed three attitudes toward CAM: desperate hope, casual optimism, and amused skepticism. PARTICIPANTS' CAM use was consistent with cultural traditions of health and fertility: Westerners relied primarily on biomedicine and used CAM mainly for relaxation, whereas non-Westerners' CAM use was often influenced by culture-specific knowledge of health, illness and fertility.
Conclusions: Understanding patients' CAM use may help clinicians provide culturally sensitive, patient-centered care.