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With trust in healthcare professionals declining, more patients are seeking alternative forms of medical treatment and many professionals are now including it in their recommendations.

Is Alternative Medicine the Key to a Healthy Doctor-Patient Relationship?

By Anne Long on May 2, 2019
With healthcare costs rising and trust in healthcare professionals declining, more patients are seeking alternative forms of medical treatment to remedy their symptoms and cure their ailments. Yet, there has been a disconnect between patients and clinicians regarding alternative means of treatment, which are costing healthcare patients and professionals more than just money, such as inadequate treatment, adverse side effects, and more. To stay abreast of the emerging research in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), IGI Global publishes findings and studies in Medical, Healthcare, and Life Sciences that offer insight into this trending topic.

With an increase in alternative health solutions to many clinical problems, Prof. Gopalakrishna-Remani and Prof. Fagan from The University of Texas - Tyler, USA, show in their chapter, “Open Source Approach for Mitigating Misinformation Risk in Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practices,” from the IGI Global multi-volume reference publication, Open Source Technology: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications, that healthcare companies, agencies, practitioners, and patients are “demanding more reliable information concerning these alternative medicines and complementary processes.”

“Patients and health maintenance organizations are spending approximately US$ 47 billion annually on innovative alternative medical techniques such as aromatherapy, biofeedback, chiropractic manipulation, homeopathy and others,” states Prof. Gopalakrishna-Remani and Prof. Fagan.

Their research shows that growing distrust is apparent in the healthcare industry and affecting both clinicians and patients. “As more and more individuals are utilizing both traditional (conventional) medicine and some combination of alternative treatments, it is certainly a growing influence in health care today.”

But why is complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) becoming so popular?

“The interest in CAM may possibly be due to the rising number of concerns that patients have towards orthodox, Western medicine. This in turn has led to a call for regulation and proof of efficacy,” says Prof. Annalisa Casarin, from the NIHR Research Design Service East of England, UK, Prof. Mayuree Tangkiatkumjai, from Srinakharinwirot University, Thailand, and Prof. Dawn-Marie Walker, University of Southampton, UK, in their chapter “An Overview of Complementary and Alternative Medicine,” from the IGI Global publication, Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice.

In addition to a need for proof of efficacy in employing complementary and alternative health solutions, Prof. Casarin, Prof. Tangkiatkumjai, and Prof. Walker state that there should also be more awareness and communication around these solutions amongst clinicians and patients. According to their research, “a high percentage of all clinicians are not aware of their patients’ propensity of using CAM.” This poses a risk for patient health and treatment. “Knowing the reasons for using CAM would guide practitioners to learn about the existence of CAM and to ask their patients about them. If practitioners would not like their patients to use CAM, they should discuss this as well as the patient’s complaints about the side effects of conventional medicine.”

In her other chapter, “CAM Recommended by Standard Guidelines for Chronic Illnesses,” in the publication, Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice, Prof. Casarin says few clinician and patient communicate about implementing CAM in their treatments because many CAM techniques have only been recently included in Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs), which assist practitioners and patients in making decisions to determine the best course of action for treating various ailments. Because of this integration, experts are now required to explore all solutions in addition to conventional treatment methods for their patients’ benefit, which is not something they’re used to.

To further elaborate on this monumental change in healthcare treatment practices and clinician-patient dialogue, Prof. Casarin brings up the point of discussion where, “It is the duty of healthcare professionals to know, and provide, information on all possible treatments available to their patients, even if complementary or alternative.”

Therefore, when medical professionals are uniformed about CAM and fail to include it in their communications with patients, it can negatively affect their relationships. Consequently, patients may feel a lack of trust with their clinician if they perceive them to be distant or indifferent to their search for optimal treatment.

To maintain open communication and trust in healthcare professionals and practices, clinicians and physicians should provide information on CAM interventions to their patients and continue to investigate the effects of CAM practices on patient illnesses and symptoms.

Currently, research and findings around CAM are scarce and the validity of its success in treatments is largely unsupported, but that means “opportunities for research are abundant and research funding bodies should promote studies in this field,” according to Prof. Casarin, Prof. Tangkiatkumjai, and Prof. Walker.
As IGI Global is focused on providing the latest research in the area of Medical, Healthcare, and Life Sciences, they publish emerging and innovative research that covers CAM, diagnosis and treatment, clinical and practitioner leadership, and healthcare analysis. Find the latest resources below and be sure to recommend these titles to your librarian to ensure your institution can acquire the most emerging research. Additionally, for researchers, all of the chapters featured in these publications are available for purchase through IGI Global’s OnDemand feature for as low as US$ 30.



All this research is part of IGI Global’s InfoSci®-Database, which consists of InfoSci®-Books, a database of 5,300+ reference books containing over 100,000 chapters with 1,000,000+ citations. Featuring IGI Global’s robust collection of edited and authored references, handbooks of research, critical explorations, case books, and research insights, IGI Global’s InfoSci-Books database is being offered with an annual subscription (2000-2020) price as low as US$ 9,450 US$ 7,088* (one-time perpetual purchase for current copyright year (2020) offered as low as US$ 20,500 US$ 15,375), to ensure that librarians can affordably acquire emerging research for their institutions.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.
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