Patterns of inter-professional communication between complementary and conventional practitioners providing maternity care services: A preliminary examination of the perceptions of CAM practitioner

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Journal Article
Australian Journal of Herbal Medicine, 2013, 25 (2), pp. 57 - 61
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© National Herbalists Association of Australia 2013. Inter-professional communication is well acknowledged as a vital piece in the practice of multi-disciplinary health care.Yet, even in health sectors such as maternity care where high rates of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use are well documented, there is little examination of the inter-professional communication patterns between CAM and conventional care providers. This study reports preliminary findings from a survey of CAM practitioners (n=31) which examines their perceived interprofessional communication patterns with conventional maternity care providers. The results indicate CAM practitioners may provide care to women from preconception care through to the postnatal period. The practitioners were most likely to receive referrals from other women or previous clients (sometimes: 41%; often 27%), rather than from health professionals. Formal communication was most likely to be directed to other CAM practitioners (sometimes: 18%; often: 4%) and least likely to be directed to obstetricians (sometimes: 0%; often: 4%). No participants reported receiving formal communications from obstetricians but a small number indicated receiving formal communication from midwives (sometimes: 7%; often: 4%) and other CAM practitioners (sometimes: 17%; often: 4%). These low rates of communication may be impacting on patient safety through overtreatment or therapeutic interactions. There are concerns that policy and legislative barriers may be limiting the inter-professional communication practices of conventional care providers. Similarly, educational and regulatory weaknesses in CAM may be contributing to poor inter-professional communication practices for CAM practitioners. Further substantive research is needed to contextualise and verify these findings.
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