Integrating complementary therapies (acupuncture) into conventional medicine has garnered recent support. Given the health benefits, low cost, and minimal risks, the military has advocated for acupuncture and begun training family medicine physicians. Little is known about the role of physician communication in patients’ acupuncture engagement (uptake and adherence) in conventional medicine settings. We interviewed physicians (N = 15) and patients (N = 17) to capture physician communication they perceived affected treatment engagement. Data for each group were thematically analyzed. Physicians and patients prioritized different communication approaches and associated strategies. Physicians identified four approaches that enhance treatment engagement: (1) using shared decision-making (e.g., treatment options); (2) not being pushy (e.g., in tone); (3) carefully choosing language (e.g., Eastern versus Western terms); and (4) explaining treatment outcomes (e.g., efficacy). Patients also prioritized explaining treatment outcomes but differently (e.g., timing clarity), with two additional approaches: (5) talking with the same physician (e.g., continuity) and (6) being responsive to patient (e.g., flexibility). Findings highlight how physicians and patients prioritize patient-centered communication differently and how it is embedded within a unique, complex therapy. Data showcase authentic narratives that could be translated into physician communication skills training to promote treatment engagement in integrative care.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Library and Information Sciences