Patients' experiences and perceptions of a consultative model integrative medicine clinic: A qualitative study

Mary Koithan, Iris R. Bell, Opher Caspi, Lynn Ferro, Victoria Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: A common theme in integrative medicine (IM) is patient-centered partnering in care between patients and providers. Despite the stated ideals, few studies have assessed patients' perspectives on their actual experience in the context of a specific care model. The purpose of the present study was to retrospectively explore and compare experiences of cancer and noncancer patients under care in a consultative IM outpatient teaching clinic in the south-western United States. Design: Qualitative study using inductive content analysis of focus group interview transcripts (2 groups of adult patients with cancers of various types and 1 group of chronically ill noncancer patients with mixed diagnoses). Method: Participants were recruited by random selection from a pool of eligible patients. Groups were conducted with patients who had completed their initial conventional cancer treatment and were at least 6 months postconsultation with an IM clinic physician. Transcripts of the audiotaped focus groups were analyzed. Results: Cancer patients (n = 15) and noncancer patients (n = 6) (mean age, 60 years; 77% women) expressed overall satisfaction with IM, emphasizing (1) expansion of treatment options with lower perceived toxicity than conventional therapies, (2) positive experiences of the IM physician as caring and taking time to listen, and (3) improved self-care skills and sense of empowerment. Cancer patients noted positive relationships with their conventional MDs more than did noncancer patients, although both groups appreciated the IM physicians' communication styles. Conclusion: Patients experience a consultative integrative clinic model overall as favorable. The impact on outcomes, costs, and long-term quality of life requires additional study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-184
Number of pages11
JournalIntegrative Cancer Therapies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Cancer patients
  • Consultative model
  • Integrative medicine
  • Integrative medicine clinic
  • Models of care
  • Outcomes
  • Qualitative methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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