McCown, Christine Marie (2016-12). Health Care Consumption: A Comparison of Traditional and Alternative Cancer Treatment Centers. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • In recent years, there has been a shift toward utilization of alternative medicine in the U.S. In the context of our changing health care system, it is important to understand whether distrust or lack of progress in traditional medicine is pushing people away, or whether rapid progress in alternative medicine is pulling people toward it. This study uses a content analysis of alternative and traditional cancer treatment center websites, along with interviews of alternative and traditional physicians to illuminate the way websites appeal to potential health care consumers. These methods reflect consumer demand as well as the ways that alternative and traditional practitioners see the movement toward alternative medicine. Content analysis showed that traditional and alternative cancer treatment websites use a combination of demonstrating competence and compassion to engender the trust of patients. These websites promote the things seen as their strengths and also the things they are perceived as lacking in order to appeal to clients; however, in this effort to appeal to a wider audience, they actually lose their unique identity and more closely resemble one another. The images and text of the websites imply that all aspects of treatment and, ultimately, success are the responsibility of the patient, regardless of access to resources. Interviews revealed opposing viewpoints from each branch of medicine regarding practices of the opposite branch of medicine, particularly with respect to personalized care and the use of evidence based medicine. Other themes that emerged were differential physician roles in patient care, different perspectives on trust, mixed feelings regarding the impact of available health information on the internet on doctor patient relationships, the idea that insurance constrains the ability to provide care and, the idea that although physicians all believe that patients should have control of their care, they do not believe patients can be trusted to make those decisions. The dynamic of all of these factors places the doctor patient relationship in tenuous territory as there is a struggle over which type of medicine is best, whether the doctor or the patient knows best, and getting insurance companies to cover treatment that is necessary for the patients to survive.
  • In recent years, there has been a shift toward utilization of alternative medicine in
    the U.S. In the context of our changing health care system, it is important to understand
    whether distrust or lack of progress in traditional medicine is pushing people away, or
    whether rapid progress in alternative medicine is pulling people toward it. This study
    uses a content analysis of alternative and traditional cancer treatment center websites,
    along with interviews of alternative and traditional physicians to illuminate the way
    websites appeal to potential health care consumers. These methods reflect consumer
    demand as well as the ways that alternative and traditional practitioners see the
    movement toward alternative medicine.

    Content analysis showed that traditional and alternative cancer treatment
    websites use a combination of demonstrating competence and compassion to engender
    the trust of patients. These websites promote the things seen as their strengths and also
    the things they are perceived as lacking in order to appeal to clients; however, in this
    effort to appeal to a wider audience, they actually lose their unique identity and more
    closely resemble one another. The images and text of the websites imply that all aspects
    of treatment and, ultimately, success are the responsibility of the patient, regardless of
    access to resources.

    Interviews revealed opposing viewpoints from each branch of medicine
    regarding practices of the opposite branch of medicine, particularly with respect to
    personalized care and the use of evidence based medicine. Other themes that emerged were differential physician roles in patient care, different perspectives on trust, mixed
    feelings regarding the impact of available health information on the internet on doctor patient
    relationships, the idea that insurance constrains the ability to provide care and,
    the idea that although physicians all believe that patients should have control of their
    care, they do not believe patients can be trusted to make those decisions.

    The dynamic of all of these factors places the doctor patient relationship in
    tenuous territory as there is a struggle over which type of medicine is best, whether the
    doctor or the patient knows best, and getting insurance companies to cover treatment that
    is necessary for the patients to survive.

publication date

  • December 2016