Australian first Honours thesis sheds light on nature of care delivered by CM practitioners
The first thesis published in Australia by an Honours student from an educational institution dedicated solely to complementary medicine has found clinical care in a complementary medicine setting is characterised by a patient-centred, empathetic and empowered
About the thesis
Endeavour College of Natural Health naturopathy graduate and Honours student Hope Foley’s thesis examined the clinical experience of complementary medicine patients across the areas of naturopathy, nutritional medicine, myotherapy, homeopathy and acupuncture in
Endeavour’s own Wellnation Clinic staffed by senior students under the supervision of qualified practitioners in Brisbane.
Hope’s pilot study surveyed 252 patients who overwhelmingly reported a highly positive perception of Patient-Centred Care, practitioner support, practitioner empathy and patient empowerment following their consultation with student practitioners across each profession.
“We know from previous studies patients often choose to consult with complementary medicine practitioners out of a desire to access holistic, patient-centred clinical care and to empower themselves in their journey towards wellness. This research is an important
starting point as we start to investigate whether these desires are being met, and while the results are limited by the setting and size of the study, they still give us some indication of the experience of complementary health patients more broadly,” said Hope.
“Patient-centred care that is respectful and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs and values, is a hot topic in healthcare, and we are seeing greater recognition of its importance by government bodies and healthcare providers in Australia and worldwide.
Given the similarities between patient-centred care and holism, it’s not surprising these findings suggest this could indeed be an area our professions excel at. This may be particularly true in the field of chronic disease management, and warrants further research in
the wider complementary medicine community.”
“It has also been incredibly exciting and satisfying to have the opportunity to contribute to something bigger than myself, and the evidence-base for my profession,” said Hope.
Endeavour’s Associate Director Research Dr Amie Steel, who oversaw Hope’s thesis project completed as part of the organisation’s capstone Honours program, said the findings had particular relevance given the Federal Government’s focus on patient-centred care.
“Through the National Chronic Disease Strategy the Federal Government identified a patient-centred care model as an important aspect of its strategy for improving chronic disease prevention and care across Australia. Hope’s findings suggest the complementary
medicine industry could be well placed to provide valuable support in this area,” said Dr Steel.
Hopeís Honourís research has been reported on in three peer-reviewed articles, including a published literature review in the journal Patient Education and Counseling, as well as an invited commentary in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine and a research article reporting the results of her research in Advances in Integrative Medicine. The latter two of these are yet to be published, and the literature review is currently available to be viewed on ScienceDirect.
Hope has been accepted into a PhD program through the Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine at the University of Technology Sydney where she will expand on the research she conducted in her Honours degree in the wider community of complementary medicine practitioners. Her thesis is titled Patient perceptions of patient-centred care, empathy and empowerment in complementary medicine student clinics: a pilot project.