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Clip and Copy: Educating patients about alternative therapies


When they're tempted to pursue unconventional therapies, offer this advice.


When they're tempted to pursue unconventional therapies, offer the advice on this handout.

Your patients with chronic diseases and other serious conditions find themselves bombarded by suggestions for quick cures from well-meaning family and friends. And the Internet has opened a floodgate of information on alternative therapies—some valuable, some bogus.

In this issue, Stephen Barrett provides information about several questionable "cures" that you might want to warn patients about. On the handout below, we've provided more advice for you to photocopy and give to your patients. We adapted it from the book Diagnosis: CANCER (2003, W.W. Norton & Company), written by Wendy Schlessel Harpham, a Dallas internist and cancer survivor.

As we point out in the article "A field guide to alternative healers", "Whatever you think of [complementary and alternative medicine], it's important to know whether your patients are resorting to it." The patient handout will help: A recurring message in it is to ask your doctor before trying any unconventional treatment so you can monitor the therapy, observe side effects, or veto the patient's choice altogether.

Other forms and patient handouts are available in the Clip and Copy section of our Web site at www.memag.com .


Dorothy Pennachio. Clip and Copy: Educating patients about alternative therapies. Medical Economics Sep. 17, 2004;81:30.

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