Networks of knowledge or just old wives' tales?: A diarybased analysis of women's selfcare practices and everyday lay expertise

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Health (United Kingdom), 2014, 18 (4), pp. 335 - 351
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Complementary and alternative medicine is increasingly popular in Australia and particularly among women. While existing research provides some understanding of women's engagement with complementary and alternative medicine and biomedicine, there has been comparatively little examination of the day-to-day character of their experiences. In this study, we utilise solicited diaries with women aged 60-65 years drawn from the 1946-1951 cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health to capture the temporal dimension of their therapeutic engagement. Focusing on 30 active complementary and alternative medicine users, we explore women's experiences of managing their health, illness and well-being over a 1-month period. The themes that emerge from their diaries illustrate the day-to-day enactment of lay expertise through informal knowledge networks, practices of self-trialling and experimentation and the moralities underpinning self-care. The diaries provide unprecedented temporal insight into the (often problematic) enactment of lay expertise at the nexus of complementary and alternative medicine and biomedicine. They also point to the value of longitudinal techniques of data collection for augmenting more traditional sociological ways of exploring therapeutic pluralism. © The Author(s) 2013.
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