The emergence of trust in clinics of alternative medicine

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Demands for alternative medicine have increased since the 1970s in nations in which western scientific evidence has become the basis for health care. This paradox has been the impetus to examine how trust emerges in clinics of alternative medicine. Alternative practitioners are self-regulated and the clients pay out of their own pockets to attend non-authorised treatments with very limited scientific evidence of their effects. Trust is a key issue in this context. However, only a few studies have dealt with the ways in which alternative practitioners win their clients’ trust. Drawing on three qualitative studies and informing the empirical findings with a sociological concept of trust, this article provides new empirical insights on how trust emerges in Danish clinics of acupuncture, reflexology and homeopathy. The analysis demonstrates how trust is situational and emerges through both clients’ susceptibility and practitioners’ individual skill development and strategies, as well as from objects, place and space. Trust is developed on relational and bodily as well as material grounds. It is argued that the dynamics and elements of trust identified do not only minimalise uncertainties but sometimes convert these uncertainties into productive new ways for clients to address their ailments, life circumstances and perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)43–57
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

ID: 147243921