Objective: In this study, we explored parents' perspectives toward complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by their children and its impact on parent-doctor and doctor–CAM-practitioner communication.
Patients and Methods: We designed a 2-arm study of parents who approached either conventional primary care or CAM clinics with their children to consult physicians or practitioners regarding their child's health.
Results: A total of 599 parents responded to our questionnaire (319 in 5 conventional clinics [83.9% response rate] and 280 in 21 CAM clinics [71.2% response rate]). Parents in conventional clinics reported less use of CAM by their children within the previous year (35.3% vs 73.7%; P < .0001) but used more traditional and homemade remedies (46.4% vs 12.7%; P < .0001). Both parent groups largely supported informing their child's physician regarding CAM use and expected the physician to initiate a CAM–related conversation and to refer their child to a CAM practitioner. The 2 groups' respondents largely supported communication between the child's physician and the CAM practitioner by the use of a referral/medical letter. Compared with respondents in CAM clinics, parents in conventional clinics were more supportive of CAM integration in a pediatric primary care setting and envisioned a more dominant role of physicians regarding CAM referral and a significant role of physicians in providing CAM.
Conclusions: Parents who are referred to conventional and CAM clinics express distinctive attitudes toward CAM integration in pediatric care. Parents perceive physician–CAM practitioner communication as highly important and instrumental in promoting their children's health and safety.
- Accepted October 8, 2010.
- Copyright © 2011 by the American Academy of Pediatrics