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October 2021

How the public classify complementary medicine: a factor analytic study

Abstract: Objectives: To see how lay people group or classify various CAM therapies. Design: Nearly 600 adults rated 39 relatively familiar branches of complementary medicine an four dimensions: whether they had heard of it, whether they think they know how it works; whether they had tried it; and a rating of efficacy an a I 0-point scale. Results: As predicted those most heard of were acupuncture, aromatherapy, herbal medicine, hypnosis, massage and yoga while those with lowest ratings were autogenic training, ayurveda, biochemic tissue salts, chelation cell therapy and ozone therapy. A number of multivariate statistical techniques were used to attempt to investigate the perceived dimensional structure of the different therapies. Slightly different structures emerged depending an the question asked and the analysis computed. Conclusion: The ībottom-up' empirically derived taxonomization of therapies was interpretable and showed 10 different factors. The issue of classifying or taxonomizing complementary medicines is discussed.

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