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A New Medical Pluralism: Complementary Medicine, Doctors, by Sarah Cant

By Sarah Cant

This comparative textual content examines the increase of non-orthodox medication and theorizes the altering nature of well-being care in glossy societies. It engages with sociological debates on modernity and postmodernity, anthropological paintings.

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Additional resources for A New Medical Pluralism: Complementary Medicine, Doctors, Patients And The State

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The practitioner-patient relationship within alternative medicine can be very different to that found within the biomedical clinic (Johannessen 1996), and Taylor (1984) has suggested that it is dissatisfaction with the medical encounter and the hierarchical and disempowering modes of consultation within biomedicine that explains the popularity of alternative medicine. Here we find some parallels with the private medical sector in the United Kingdom as empirical research has shown that users of private medical services are attracted by the extra time they are given by the private doctor and the changes this can facilitate in the doctor-patient relationship, although it is often the speed in which a patient can see a consultant rather than the length of time spent in the consulting room which is most desired (Higgins 1988, Calnan et al.

The increased availability of information and the knowledge of risks may have provided for a more reflexive and questioning consumer—an explanation that of course precedes those of costs and benefits. ” (Sharma 1995:51). It appears that patients also desire more control in the consultation. In longer consultations patients have the opportunity to provide more information about their complaint and take on board information provided by the practitioners (Johannessen 1996). Qualitative studies have revealed that patients respond to being treated as an equal and desire a more participative relation ship with their practitioner (Hewer 1983).

However, if these views encourage using a mix of services, a more critical stance towards the medical experts and a shift from patient to consumer then there has been a shift in behaviour and attitude. Theorizing consumption of alternative medicine Before we examine the empirical data that has been generated about the users of alternative medicine, is it possible to draw any insight from the wealth of theoretical material that has been generated within sociology about recent social change? Certainly it is clear that a number of critical changes are occurring in what has variously been described as late, radical or post-modernity, changes that carry implications for the way that biomedicine is perceived and the role of the lay public as consumers of health care.

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