The meaning of complementary, alternative and traditional medicine among the Indonesian psychology community: a pilot study

J Integr Med. 2017 Jul;15(4):288-294. doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(17)60336-4.


Objective: Complementary, alternative and traditional medicine (CATM) is a new field, as well as a promising area of study and practice in psychology. It is important to research the cultural context and meaning of CATM, including its definitions and examples, among different communities of psychology because CATM's use is dependent on how it is understood by the members. The aim of this pilot study is to provide an interpretation of the Indonesian psychology community's understanding of CATM through a qualitative approach.

Methods: Online interviews with open-ended questions and purposive sampling were used. Participants were dominantly psychologists or lecturers in clinical psychology area. Ten males and 12 females with an average age of 28.0 ± 2.5 years voluntarily participated in this study. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and reviewed and analysed by the two authors to ensure accuracy of interpretation.

Results: It was found that there was no single meaning of CATM among the Indonesian community of psychology. Participants were not familiar enough with the terms and tended to use them with overlap. It can be suggested that "complementary medicine" and "alternative medicine" or "complementary-alternative medicine" combined provides more suitable terminology for use among Indonesian psychology community when communicating with other health care professionals.

Conclusion: The understanding of the terms and examples of CATM were diverse and were often used interchangeably in the projects/interviews. It was also found that Indonesian psychologists required more education regarding CATM. In addition, future studies with more participants from various aspects of the psychology community should be conducted to capture a more representative sample.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indonesia
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychology*