Receiving money for medicine: some tensions and resolutions for community-based private complementary therapists
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During recent years, private complementary medicine has grown as a significant provider of healthcare in the UK and much of this provision is through small private businesses financed by out-of-pocket payments made by privately paying clients. Using a combined questionnaire (n = 426) and interview survey (n = 49), the present paper considers the potential tensions and dilemmas which therapists face and the resolutions which they come to in being carers, but in market terms, also profit makers. Therapists generally identified with being carers first and business people second, and this was reflected in their caring decisions. Indeed, under circumstances where the roles potentially conflicted (e.g. when clients could no longer afford to pay for their treatments), most therapists claimed that they continued to provide care, either by providing their services free-of-charge, at a reduced rate, by deferring payment or by accepting alternative forms of compensation. There is a relative lack of dedicated research literature on complementary therapists, their attitudes and actions, and this paper provides some important data on their specific management and caring decisions. At the same time, the evidence also provides some initial food-for-thought and indicates some potential research directions for exploring ethical issues in the private practice of complementary medicine.
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