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




To explore patients' perspectives towards integration of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in primary care.


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.


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.


Most patients in primary care want a GP who listens, inquires about CAM and if necessary refers to or collaborates with CAM practitioners.


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.

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