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May 2022

Beliefs about the efficacy of complementary medicine: a vignette study

Author(s): RAWLINSON, A.

Abstract: Over 90 adult subjects read six vignettes (each about 80 words long) describing middle-aged women with one of three problems: psychological (feeling tired); chronic medical (migraine) or acute medical (sudden numbness). They were described as visiting either a complementary or orthodox medical practitioner and feeling better after specific treatment. Subjects were then required to rate each vignette on such things as the efficacy of the treatment and whether they thought the person's responses proved that the therapy worked. The results showed that overall orthodox medicine was judged as more effective than complementary medicine, and that psychological problems were easier to cure than medical problems. The fact that the subjects themselves had experienced complementary medicine had little effect on their judgment of efficacy. Results were discussed in terms of the literature in this area.

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