Breaking Boundaries: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Provider Framing of Preventive Care

Qual Health Res. 2017 Nov;27(13):2019-2029. doi: 10.1177/1049732317723891. Epub 2017 Aug 26.


This textual examination extends understandings of how complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers constitute preventive care in their discourse by identifying the frame of breaking boundaries referencing relational, structural, and philosophical orientations in their practice with their clients. Analysis of semistructured, in-depth interviews with CAM providers ( n = 17) reveals that the frame of breaking boundaries was comprised of three themes: finding one's own strength; I don't prescribe, so I'm exploring; and ground yourself, and have an escape route. The themes describe preventive care by identifying how CAM providers negotiate their relational positionality in connecting with clients, structural positionality within the field of health care, and philosophical positionality within the ontological understandings that guide how health is defined and conceptualized. The study contributes toward enhancing diverse understandings of constituting preventive care in practice and suggests pragmatic implications for addressing biomedical provider communication with their patients seeking CAM care alongside conventional treatments.

Keywords: CAM provider communication; North America; complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); frame analysis; patient–provider relationship; preventive care; theme analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Communication
  • Complementary Therapies / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Power, Psychological
  • Preventive Medicine / organization & administration*