Definitions and patterns of CAM use by the lay public

Dana Fennell, Ana S.Q. Liberato, Barbara Zsembik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Introduction: CAM is a socially constructed concept, and the literature on CAM definitions and patterns of use illustrates problems centering on the conceptualization and operationalization of "CAM." This renders it hard for researchers to truly understand CAM use patterns by the public. We use pilot data to explore lay conceptions of "CAM," and methodological approaches to capturing CAM usage. Methods: Our pilot data come from surveys and journals of undergraduates, yielding direct and indirect measures of levels and patterns of CAM use. Results and conclusions: The free listing method is a way to methodologically get around cultural bias and other problems conceptualizing CAM. Our pilot data suggest the public may have trouble conceptualizing CAM, and that survey construction does affect the richness of data on CAM use. Asking respondents direct measures of CAM modalities through surveys yielded the richest data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-77
Number of pages7
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Alternative medicine
  • CAM
  • Ethnicity
  • Free listing
  • Methodology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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