Healing Traditions: Alternative Medicine and the Health Professions

By Bonnie Blair O’Connor | Go to book overview

Discovering and Working with
Patients’ Nonconventional Health
Beliefs and Practices
1. Become familiar with the region in which you practice.Some nonconventional health belief systems are closely connected with particular ethnic, religious, or other specific identity groups. Some, such as the numerous New Age healing systems, are associated largely with “mainstream” populations and are widely and unpredictably distributed among them. What is the profile of your area or patient population? What healing resources are represented?2. Be familiar with circumstances that encourage use of alternative or complementary therapies.For example, chronic or recurrent illness (even if medically minor), very serious illness, or poor medical prognosis often prompt a broadening of healing resources to include nonconventional healing practices, even among those not previously familiar with or receptive to such systems or practices.3. Become familiar with specific nonconventional therapies closely associated with particular health conditions seen often in your practice or specialty.Remember that these will include both health maintenance or “wellness” practices, and therapeutic or remedial practices.4. Check during initial history for:
patient explanatory model for the presenting complaint
lifestyle cues, religious or spiritual considerations

Adapted from David J. Hufford, “What Every Health Professional Should Know
About Folklore.” In Michael Owen Jones, ed., Putting Folklore to Use. Lexington: Univer-
sity Press of Kentucky, 1993. Used by permission.

-203-

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