A truly complementary approach: A qualitative exploration of complementary and alternative medicine practitioners’ views of treating Ankylosing Spondylitis

Hannah Family, Abbie Jordan, Kelly Blaxall, Raj Sengupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-102
Number of pages7
JournalMusculoskeletal Care
Issue number1
Early online date9 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Chiropractics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)

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