An exploratory study of the health service managers role in providing effective integrative health care

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Journal Article
European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2013, 5 (1), pp. 27 - 35
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Introduction: Emerging health service research on integrative health care (IHC) has predominantly focused on the experiences and perceptions of patients and practitioners. To date no work has focused attention upon health service managers (HSMs) and their involvement in IHC service provision. In this paper we report on the first exploratory investigation of the perspectives of HSMs regarding their role in facilitating effective IHC practice. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of eight HSMs. Six were responsible for community-based programmes (drug and alcohol rehabilitation, refugee mental health and women's health) and two were responsible for hospital-based specialist programmes dealing with chronic conditions. Results: Findings reveal that HSMs in this study perceive their role as important in the establishment and the continuity of strategies to enable effective IHC practice. HSMs recognised the clinical relevance of CAM within their services and proactively instigated appropriate supportive organisational structures to facilitate inter-disciplinary respect and collegiality between practitioners. The current study suggests CAM champions, co-location, educational and communication strategies, clear and respectful boundaries between disciplines, well informed referral practices and shared values are all seen by HSMs to be important to ensure the sustainability and efficacy of IHC practice. Conclusions: Through the perspectives of HSMs in a range of different IHC settings, this study provides valuable insights of benefit to those looking to establish and maintain successful IHC services. Investigating the perceptions and experiences of HSMs provides valuable insights to the IHC literature and future work attempting to develop effective IHC service provision. © 2012 Elsevier GmbH.
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