Private complementary medicine and older people: service use and user empowerment Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Increasing numbers of people are using complementary therapies, and many are in older age groups. Although recent empirical research has considered the demands for complementary medicine, and in particular its recent consumer boom, little acknowledgement is given in research to the different social categories of users, and to the intricacies of their different motivations and consumer behaviours. In the context of a relative paucity of dedicated research investigations, the paper highlights the relevance of social gerontological perspectives. Based on a questionnaire survey of 144 older users, and in-depth interviews with 20 older users in southern England, it considers trends in local use and user actions, attitudes and opinions. From a disciplinary perspective, the paper also contributes to a growing body of research which focuses on older peoples’ self-implemented health and health care strategies. There is a substantial degree of user satisfaction with the therapies used, and many respondents claimed to have benefited in terms of their physical and mental health. Older users are also empowered by their treatment decisions and negotiations, many of which are made either independently, or jointly between themselves and their therapists. Treatment solutions are typically constructed with combinations of complementary therapies, or combinations of complementary therapies and orthodox health services.

publication date

  • May 2002