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Communicating With Pediatricians About Complementary/Alternative Medicine: Perspectives From Parents of Children With Down Syndrome

  • Erica Prussing
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Erica Prussing, Department of Anthropology, 114 Macbride Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242
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  • Elisa J. Sobo
    Affiliations
    From the Department of Anthropology and Department of Community and Behavioral Health (Dr Prussing), University of Iowa, Iowa City, Ia; the Center for Child Health Outcomes (Dr Sobo), Children's Hospital and Health Center, San Diego, and the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Department of Pediatrics, University of California San Diego School of Medicine; the Center for Child Health Outcomes (Dr Walker, Ms Dennis, Dr Kurtin), Children's Hospital and Health Center, San Diego, Calif
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  • Elizabeth Walker
    Affiliations
    From the Department of Anthropology and Department of Community and Behavioral Health (Dr Prussing), University of Iowa, Iowa City, Ia; the Center for Child Health Outcomes (Dr Sobo), Children's Hospital and Health Center, San Diego, and the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Department of Pediatrics, University of California San Diego School of Medicine; the Center for Child Health Outcomes (Dr Walker, Ms Dennis, Dr Kurtin), Children's Hospital and Health Center, San Diego, Calif
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  • Kimberly Dennis
    Affiliations
    From the Department of Anthropology and Department of Community and Behavioral Health (Dr Prussing), University of Iowa, Iowa City, Ia; the Center for Child Health Outcomes (Dr Sobo), Children's Hospital and Health Center, San Diego, and the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Department of Pediatrics, University of California San Diego School of Medicine; the Center for Child Health Outcomes (Dr Walker, Ms Dennis, Dr Kurtin), Children's Hospital and Health Center, San Diego, Calif
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  • Paul S. Kurtin
    Affiliations
    From the Department of Anthropology and Department of Community and Behavioral Health (Dr Prussing), University of Iowa, Iowa City, Ia; the Center for Child Health Outcomes (Dr Sobo), Children's Hospital and Health Center, San Diego, and the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Department of Pediatrics, University of California San Diego School of Medicine; the Center for Child Health Outcomes (Dr Walker, Ms Dennis, Dr Kurtin), Children's Hospital and Health Center, San Diego, Calif
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      Objectives.—Barriers to communication about complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) between parents and pediatricians are frequently documented, yet the scope of these barriers remains poorly understood. Such barriers are especially troubling when they involve children with special health needs, among whom CAM use is especially common. This pilot study of parents of children with Down syndrome (DS) used qualitative methods to explore parents' perceptions of the extent and quality of communication about CAM with pediatricians, to elicit parents' recommendations for improvement, and to formulate new research questions.
      Design.—Semistructured interviews were conducted with parents from 30 families with children with DS. Data were audiotaped and analyzed with assistance from qualitative data analysis software.
      Results.—Parents described how they advocated vigorously with their pediatricians about biomedical concerns such as the American Academy of Pediatrics healthcare guidelines for DS, but often avoided discussion of nonbiomedical concerns such as CAM. Many parents looked to pediatricians to initiate conversations about CAM.
      Discussion.—Even parents who assertively advocate for biomedical concerns in their children's health care may be unlikely to disclose and discuss CAM use with their pediatricians. Attending to parents' experiences helps to illuminate the nature and scope of current communication barriers and poses new research questions for assessing and improving parent-physician collaboration about health-related issues that may be prioritized differently by parents and pediatricians.

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