Complementary and alternative medicine: Representation in popular magazines

Alexandra Dunne*, Christine Phillips

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: More than half the patients who use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in Australia do not discuss it with their doctors. Many consumers use popular media, especially women's magazines, to learn about CAM. Aim: To explore representations of CAM in popular Australian women's magazines. Method: Content analysis of three Australian magazines: Australian Women's Weekly, Dolly and New Idea published from January to June 2008. Results: Of 220 references to CAM (4-17 references per issue), most were to biologically based practices, particularly 'functional foods', which enhance health. Most representations of CAM were positive (81.3% positive, 16.4% neutral, 2.3% negative). Explanations of modes of action of CAM tended to be biological but relatively superficial. Discussion: Australian magazines cast CAM as safe therapy which enhances patient engagement in healthcare, and works in ways analogous to orthodox medical treatments. General practitioners can use discussions with their patients about CAM to encourage health promoting practices.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)671-674
    Number of pages4
    JournalAustralian Family Physician
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


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