You just got to eat healthy: the topic of CAM in the general practice consultation

New Zealand research suggests that CAM use by GPs has decreased, while referral to CAM practitioners by GPs has increased, and that patients often do not tell their health practitioners when they are using CAM. The New Zealand Medical Council has developed guidelines for GPs who use CAM. However, there is no research in New Zealand that looks at how patients and GPs respond to CAM issues in the consultation. This paper uses data collected for two research projects on doctor-patient interaction. For this research, consultations between 105 patients and nine GPs were video-recorded. In this data set, all doctors but one were 'orthodox' and to some degree reserved judgement on CAM, albeit remaining cautious in how they made this evident. Patients on the other hand demonstrated a variety of strategies to get CAM on the agenda, and GPs were careful to couch any criticism in such a way as to protect the 'face' of patients.