"It Seems So Simple Now": Complementary and Alternative Medicine as a Resource for Sense-Making

by Brenton, Joslyn Jane

Abstract (Summary)
ABSTRACT BRENTON, JOSLYN. âIt All Seems So Simple Nowâ: The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Sense-Making. (Under the direction of Michael Schwalbe). The practice of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the United States has grown rapidly since the mid-1970s. But why are people attracted to these alternative practices and therapies? Drawing on social-psychological theory, this study explores peopleâs CAM use in the context of the shortcomings of conventional medical encounters. In-depth interviews with 20 CAM users reveal that people use two key concepts found in virtually all types of CAM, mind-body connection and vitalism, as resources for therapeutic sense-making. People use CAM to make sense of physical problems such as debilitating back injuries, as well as non-physical problems, such as divorce and eating disorders. A gender pattern in CAM use is also examined. Drawing upon feminist theory, this study makes a significant contribution to a much needed understanding of how and why womenâs and menâs CAM use differ. Womenâs CAM use is seen as an attempt to reinterpret the conditions that cause their suffering, while menâs CAM use is seen as an attempt to change the conditions that cause their problems.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Ronald Czaja; Maxine Thompson; Michael Schwalbe

School:North Carolina State University

School Location:USA - North Carolina

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/29/2009

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