Integrative healthcare : facilitators to successful integration of complementary health approaches and conventional healthcare

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


Integrative healthcare (IH) is a relatively new area of specialization in the U.S. healthcare system. The existence of IH is widely attributed to popular demand for the range of therapies known collectively as Complementary Health Approaches (CHA) or Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). In the U.S., alternative, complementary, and integrative healing movements have become a significant part of popular and healthcare cultures, yet there has not been a focus on what is driving integration of CHA and conventional healthcare. The purpose of this thesis was to identify factors that facilitate successful integration of CHA and conventional healthcare practices. To address this purpose, an answer to the following research question was sought: What are the principal driving forces that support the development and maintenance of Integrative Healthcare? Interviews with a convenience sample of eight allopathic providers were conducted to gain knowledge about their use of CHA, IH, or referral for these healthcare therapies. Participants were selected based on their current or potential involvement with CHA and/or IH. Roger's theory of the progressive stages used in adopting change was employed to guide the study. Qualitative analysis was conducted to identify major concepts and subconcepts. Based on the participants' responses, four key concepts and 4 subconcepts emerged. The major concept of perceived benefits was further narrowed to include clinical outcomes and financial outcomes. Other key concepts included growth of CHA and IH, and facilitators to utilization of CHA and IH. The fourth key concept was satisfaction which included the subconcepts of provider and patient satisfaction. All participants reported improved clinical outcomes, positive impact on the financial health of clinics/facilities, and enhanced provider and patient satisfaction through utilizing or referring for IH or CHA. Given the growth of IH, it is paramount that providers meet the demand for IH in a competent manner by educating themselves and developing alliances with reputable and knowledgeable CHA practitioners. Models of care delivery for IH need to be developed and tested. Finally, additional large scale studies are needed to validate the findings of this study and identify other facilitators that impact integration of CHA and allopathic healthcare.




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