Each year Australians spend over $4 billion on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and visit CAM practitioners almost as frequently as they do medical practitioners.1 However, less than half of consumers of CAM have discussed their use with medical practitioners,1 indicating that doctors are not significant sources of consumer information about CAM.
More than half the patients who
use complementary and alternative
medicine (CAM) in Australia do not
discuss it with their doctors. Many
consumers use popular media,
especially women’s magazines, to learn
To explore representations of CAM in
popular Australian women’s magazines.
Content analysis of three Australian
magazines: Australian Women’s Weekly,
Dolly and New Idea published from
January to June 2008.
Of 220 references to CAM (4–17
references per issue), most were to
biologically based practices, particularly
‘functional foods’, which enhance health.
Most representations of CAM were
positive (81.3% positive, 16.4% neutral,
2.3% negative). Explanations of modes
of action of CAM tended to be biological
but relatively superficial.
Australian magazines cast CAM as
safe therapy which enhances patient
engagement in healthcare, and works
in ways analogous to orthodox medical
treatments. General practitioners can
use discussions with their patients about
CAM to encourage health promoting
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