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February 23, 2000

Consider the Alternatives

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JAMA. 2000;283(8):994. doi:10.1001/jama.283.8.994-JQU00000-2-1

Ever since a report in the early 1990s indicated that Americans spend more than $13 billion annually on alternative therapies, the US medical community has questioned why patients often do not tell physicians they use these treatments.

A new study of women with breast cancer reveals a simple line of reasoning: patients often feel that physicians are not interested in the alternative therapies they use. "Understanding why women are hesitant to talk to doctors about their alternative forms of medicine is critical to improving communication and patient care," said Shelley Adler, PhD, lead investigator and professor of medical anthropology at the University of California at San Francisco. The study was presented at the 11th International Congress on Women's Health Issues, held last month in San Francisco.