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Complementary And Alternative Medicine Practitioner’s Management Of Acute Respiratory Tract Infections In Children – A Qualitative Descriptive Study

Authors Lucas S, Leach MJ, Kumar S, Phillips AC

Received 12 September 2019

Accepted for publication 29 October 2019

Published 20 November 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 947—962

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S230845

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser


Sandra Lucas,1 Matthew J Leach,2 Saravana Kumar,1 Anna C Phillips1

1School of Health Sciences, Division of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia; 2Department of Rural Health, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia

Correspondence: Sandra Lucas
School of Health Sciences, Division of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, North Tce, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Tel +61 4 8890 1240
Fax +61 8 8302 2853
Email sandra.lucas@mymail.unisa.edu.au

Background: Acute respiratory tract infection (ARTI) is one of the most prevalent types of infection among children and a common reason for hospital admission. Although parents frequently consult complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners to assist with the management of childhood ARTI, little is known about the treatments that CAM practitioners recommend and why. The aim of this research was to understand what CAM practitioners typically prescribe for the management of childhood ARTI and how practitioners formulate decisions regarding the management of this condition.
Method: The research was guided by a qualitative descriptive framework. CAM practitioners across Greater Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) who had treated children aged 0–12 years with ARTI in the past 12 months were eligible to participate. Data were captured using semi-structured interviews, which were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Multiple strategies to improve trustworthiness were implemented (e.g., triangulation of data). Data were analysed using inductive content analysis.
Results: Twenty-four CAM practitioners from ten different disciplines participated in the interviews. Most participants were female (75%), and more than half (54%) were practicing naturopaths. The treatments most commonly recommended were lifestyle modification (95%), nutrition/diet-based treatments (91%), and vitamin/mineral supplementation (87%). Practitioners’ decision-making process was underpinned by four key concepts namely: the approach to management, individualisation, do no harm, and collaborative practice. Individualisation and the safety of the child are cornerstones of treatment in the practitioner’s decision-making process.
Conclusion: This research sheds light on commonly used CAM interventions, many of which build on easily accessible and readily available treatments (such as soups) and are aligned with mainstream recommendations (such as rest). Practitioners’ decision-making process too aligns well with mainstream health care where the focus is on safety and informed by a biopsychosocial-cultural approach.

Keywords: traditional complementary integrated medicine, decision-making, paediatric, qualitative descriptive, respiratory infection, health personal


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