Therapeutic pluralism? Evidence, power and legitimacy in UK cancer services

Broom, Alex and Tovey, Philip (2007) Therapeutic pluralism? Evidence, power and legitimacy in UK cancer services. Sociology of Health & Illness, 29 4: 551-569. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9566.2007.01002.x

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Author Broom, Alex
Tovey, Philip
Title Therapeutic pluralism? Evidence, power and legitimacy in UK cancer services
Journal name Sociology of Health & Illness   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0141-9889
Publication date 2007-05
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2007.01002.x
Volume 29
Issue 4
Start page 551
End page 569
Total pages 19
Place of publication Oxford
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2008
Language eng
Subject C1
11 Medical and Health Sciences
Abstract The integration of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) into cancer services is increasingly discussed as a potential part of UK health policy but as yet there has been little sociological research examining this process. This paper examines the results of a study on the provision of CAM to cancer patients in two distinct organisational contexts: the hospice and the hospital. It is based on interviews with medical specialists, nursing staff and CAM therapists. This paper focuses on how integration is managed in each organisation, examining professional boundary disputes and inter-professional dynamics. Discussion focuses on the rhetorical and practical strategies that are employed by a variety of differently positioned interviewees to negotiate the complexities of the interface of CAM and biomedicine. The results show significant differentiation in how differently positioned cancer clinicians view and utilise the biomedical hierarchy of evidence. We argue that the integration of CAM should not be conceptualised as a mere challenge to biomedicine, or, as resulting in a linear process of deprofessionalisation. Rather, it should be seen as producing a complex array of processes, including strategic adaptation on the part of medical specialists and NHS organisations.
Keyword Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Social Sciences, Biomedical
complementary medicine
evidence-based medicine
integrative care
Evidence-based Medicine
Complementary Therapies
Alternative Medicine
Palliative Care
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 30 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 18 Feb 2008, 17:02:03 EST