Background 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
Aim To explore representations of CAM in
popular Australian women’s magazines.
Discussion 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
Results 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.
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