A survey of the attitudes and behaviors of medical family therapists regarding complementary and alternative medicine: An exploration of collaboration

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Marriage and Family Therapy


Kenneth V. Hardy


Medical family therapists, Complementary and alternative medicine, Collaboration

Subject Categories

Family, Life Course, and Society | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


According to studies conducted in the 1990s and early 2000s, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in the United States has become increasingly prevalent and yet up to 60% of users do not inform their healthcare providers of their use. The omission of information about CAM use may inhibit clients from receiving effective and comprehensive healthcare as well as being understood as the practices reflect particular beliefs and philosophies about health. Through collaborative relationships with clients and practitioners, medical family therapists (MedFTs) are in positions to bridge the gap of communication and to understand clients' beliefs about health and illness. It is important to first understand MedFTs attitudes about CAM and how these attitudes influence their clinical behaviors such as initiating conversation with clients about CAM and collaborating with CAM practitioners. The purpose of this study was to explore the attitudes and behaviors of MedFTs regarding CAM. Data was collected through an Internet-based survey to MedFTs across the United States. In total, there were 59 participants in this study. The data was analyzed using basic statistical analysis through SPSS. Results demonstrated that MedFTs in this study who were familiar with CAM tended to have positive attitudes about CAM and were likely to talk with their clients about CAM as well as be willing to collaborate with CAM practitioners. Limitations of this study and areas for further research are discussed.


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