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OBJECTIVE: Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory rheumatic disease in which individuals experience a long delay to diagnosis. Prior to diagnosis, individuals report frequent use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies. While popularly used, there is a dearth of knowledge concerning the experiences of CAM practitioners in terms of treating individuals with AS. Addressing this knowledge gap, the present study provides a detailed exploration of how UK-based CAM practitioners treat individuals with AS.
METHODS: Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with eight UK-based CAM practitioners, (four males), aged 45-69 years. CAM practitioners were recruited across a range of CAM therapies and years of CAM practice experience (8-46 years).
RESULTS: Thematic analysis resulted in the identification of three themes to characterize the data. Themes comprised: (i) the whole picture; (ii) alarm bells; and (iii) a common language. Themes highlighted CAM practitioner adoption of a holistic, yet individualized approach to treating individuals with AS, despite a general sense of lack of knowledge concerning AS among CAM practitioners. Notably, results indicated a desire of CAM practitioners to work more collaboratively with mainstream health providers to provide more joined-up care for individuals with AS.
CONCLUSION: CAM practitioners emphasized the benefits of CAM to focus on providing effective symptom management when used in conjunction, rather than in opposition to, mainstream healthcare. Adoption of a more holistic approach to AS management by CAM practitioners may empower clients to become more aware of symptoms, thus potentially reducing delays in receiving a formal diagnosis of AS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
- Nursing (miscellaneous)