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Objectives. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is used by large numbers of the general public and is increasingly becoming integrated into the mainstream. An understanding of why people use CAM in general has been developed in the literature, but relatively little is known specifically about adherence to CAM. We tested hypotheses (derived from a dynamic extended version of Leventhal's common-sense model) that patients' beliefs about treatment, perceptions of illness, and treatment appraisals would predict adherence to CAM. Design. A prospective self-report questionnaire study was carried out with a 3-month follow-up period. Methods. A total of 240 patients from five CAM clinics completed self-report questionnaire measures of treatment beliefs, illness perceptions, and treatment appraisals at baseline. Three months later, they completed self-report measures of adherence to therapists' recommendations concerning attendance, remedy use, and life-style changes. Results. Logistic regression analyses showed that positive perceptions of one's therapist and belief that mental factors do not cause illness independently predicted adherence to appointments. Positive beliefs in holistic health and finding it difficult to travel to appointments predicted adherence to remedy use. Using homeopathy was the only independent predictor of adherence to life-style changes. Conclusions. Treatment appraisals, treatment beliefs, and illness perceptions explain modest proportions of the variance in adherence to CAM. This study highlights the value of operationalizing the appraisal element of the common-sense model when investigating adherence to treatment. © 2008 The British Psychological Society.

Original publication




Journal article


British journal of health psychology

Publication Date





701 - 718