Int J Qual Health Care. 1997 Feb; 9(1): 55-9.
Autonomy and practice: the case of complementary practitioners in the UK.
School of Continuing Education, University of Leeds, UK.
OBJECTIVE: 1. To identify the level of acceptance of the principle of British Medical Association (BMA) participation in the formulation of practice guidelines for complementary medicine amongst currently active non-orthodox practitioners in the UK. 2. To identify the level of support for individual BMA proposals. 3. To identify similarities and differences of attitude to the proposals between practitioners of selected non-orthodox therapies. DESIGN: A postal survey of 1000 practitioners of complementary medicine. SETTING: The UK between late 1993 and early 1994. STUDY PARTICIPANTS: One thousand currently practising UK complementary therapists from 4 groups-chiropractic, "lay" homeopathy, medical herbalism and reflexology. Systematic sampling (every nth practitioner) was used to select 250 respondents from membership lists of relevant representative bodies. The reponse rate was 57%. RESULTS: The principle of BMA participation in policy formation was accepted by the vast majority of respondents, although 87.7% stipulated that this should not constitute a major role. Each of the individual BMA proposals received majority support. Acceptance rates varied from 59.7% to 92.9%. Statistically significant differentiation between therapies was recorded on certain proposals. DISCUSSION: The revised stance of the BMA is finding a potentially receptive audience amongst UK complementary practitioners. There is a large amount of common ground between the proposals and what is acceptable to practitioners. However, the situation is complicated by intra-sectoral differentiation. Particular therapy and issue-specific barriers exist to the universal utilization of the kind of measures proposed.