The Perspectives of Medical Professionals on the Nature and Practices of Integrative Medicine: A Qualitative Pilot Study of Integrative Medical Centers in the United States
Integrative medical centers have recently increased in number throughout the United States. Subsequently, minimal research exists on this relatively new medical phenomenon. The objectives of this study are to collect and analyze qualitative data, which partially describe the landscape of integrative medical centers currently existing within the United States. Five participants were recruited from four medical institutions currently practicing integrative medicine. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with each participant in order to gain perspective into his/her (1) definition of integrative medicine; (2) the perceived reasons for the rise of integrative medicine within the United States; (3) the outlook for integrative medicine within the realm of the United States healthcare system; and (4) the organization, practices and standards of care as it is evolving into an integrative setting. These five participants provided perspectives that represent the variability and lack of consensus that currently exists within the integrative medical community on the definitions and concepts that define “integrative medicine” as practiced in these contexts. Integrative medicine is a relatively new and growing phenomenon and continued research into its nature and effectiveness is imperative for the sake of standardization, coordination and patient safety. This study contributes valuable insight and knowledge to this exploration of an emerging practice within the healthcare landscape.