9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Formal and Informal Health Care Organisation and Health Care Delivery in Europe II Building I, 1E4

"You are free from unwanted side-effects". Alternative medicine acknowledged as a no-risk health regime

Consumer interest in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has grown noticeably in the Western world since the 1960┬┤s. Based on a random sample of 14,566 Danish citizens aged 16 years or above, the most recent (2005) representative national Health Interview Survey in Denmark estimates that 45.2% respondents have drawn on the services of alternative practitioners, 22.5% within the preceding year, compared to 10.0 % in 1987. The most popular CAM treatments are reflexology and acupuncture.
This paper explores the ways in which clients attending acupuncture and reflexology experience the "effects" of CAM and how a "no-risk" health regime emerges from their experiences. Within a phenomenological approach this paper draws on 90 qualitative in-depth interviews conducted with 30 clients in acupuncture or reflexology clinics.
It will be argued that local trust is an important "effect broker" for treatments within CAM, the effects of which are not evidence-based. How clients respond to health risk and how they are challenging experts, requiring of them that they win their trust will be evolved in order to discuss how growing consumerism in health care affect patterns of building trust in the changing field of welfare services and health care. A positive client image can be produced in opposition to traditional, passive images of clients in conventional medicine. However, attempts to establish some control on the one hand and passive acceptance of CAM treatments on the other lead to contradictions in clients┬┤strategies.