Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 39, Issue 9, September 2010

Complementary and alternative medicine Representations in popular magazines

Alexandra Dunne Christine Phillips
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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 about CAM.
To explore representations of CAM in popular Australian women’s magazines.
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 practices.
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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