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Trust in complementary medicine: the case of cranial osteopathy

Lee-Treweek, Geraldine (2002) Trust in complementary medicine: the case of cranial osteopathy. Sociological review, 50 (1). pp. 48-68. ISSN 1467-954X

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Abstract

Trust has been seen as operating within situations in which an individual's ability to assess risk or probability is absent and yet they still choose to believe in something. The development of new sets of knowledge in modern societies raises interesting questions about how the public come to trust the 'experts' who practice them and there is a paucity of work which addresses how trust 'happens' in these new relationships. This paper uses the accounts of patients who use cranial osteopathy to discuss the bases of trust in complementary medicine. It is argued that the practitioner and their therapy is not the basis of patient trust. For the initial attendance the patient relies upon the accounts and credibility of other people (network trust). After this it is the phenomenological work of the patient, who strives to find meaning in the treatments they experience, which is essential to the development of trust relationships. The paper demonstrated that patients mobilise ideas and understandings which they are familiar with to understand the unfamiliar and that it is this process of seeking meaning which is central to the creation of trust.

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