Health Care Consumption: A Comparison of Traditional and Alternative Cancer Treatment Centers
MetadataShow full item record
In recent years, there has been a shift toward utilization of alternative medicine in the U.S. In the context of our changing health care system, it is important to understand whether distrust or lack of progress in traditional medicine is pushing people away, or whether rapid progress in alternative medicine is pulling people toward it. This study uses a content analysis of alternative and traditional cancer treatment center websites, along with interviews of alternative and traditional physicians to illuminate the way websites appeal to potential health care consumers. These methods reflect consumer demand as well as the ways that alternative and traditional practitioners see the movement toward alternative medicine. Content analysis showed that traditional and alternative cancer treatment websites use a combination of demonstrating competence and compassion to engender the trust of patients. These websites promote the things seen as their strengths and also the things they are perceived as lacking in order to appeal to clients; however, in this effort to appeal to a wider audience, they actually lose their unique identity and more closely resemble one another. The images and text of the websites imply that all aspects of treatment and, ultimately, success are the responsibility of the patient, regardless of access to resources. Interviews revealed opposing viewpoints from each branch of medicine regarding practices of the opposite branch of medicine, particularly with respect to personalized care and the use of evidence based medicine. Other themes that emerged were differential physician roles in patient care, different perspectives on trust, mixed feelings regarding the impact of available health information on the internet on doctor patient relationships, the idea that insurance constrains the ability to provide care and, the idea that although physicians all believe that patients should have control of their care, they do not believe patients can be trusted to make those decisions. The dynamic of all of these factors places the doctor patient relationship in tenuous territory as there is a struggle over which type of medicine is best, whether the doctor or the patient knows best, and getting insurance companies to cover treatment that is necessary for the patients to survive.
Subjectalternative medicine: medical sociology: cancer treatment
McCown, Christine Marie (2016). Health Care Consumption: A Comparison of Traditional and Alternative Cancer Treatment Centers. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from