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Abandoning biomedicine for alternate therapies: Oncology patients' stories

Montbriand, Muriel J. Ph.D., R.N.


Little is known of the experiences of oncology patients who abandon biomedicine to use alternate therapies. This ethnography provides insights into the experiences of eight estranged informants. Six main themes emerging from the analysis are (a) expressed stress: emotions such as anger and fear, (b) taking control, (c) belief in a cure,(d) social group association, (e) cost considerations, and(f) mystical insights into health care. Conducted over 3 years, the study includes a network sample and longitudinal case study with one key witness. Individual interviews and one focus group were included. Insights are provided for health professionals who may encounter biomedical abandonment.

Muriel Montbriand is a NHRDP Community Researcher, administratively sponsored by Saskatoon District Health, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Applied Research/Psychiatry, Royal University Hospital, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Muriel J. Montbriand, Box 92, Royal University Hospital, 103 Hospital Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N OX8.

Accepted for publication April 22, 1997.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers