A triangulated perspective for understanding CAM use in Lebanon: a qualitative study

Zeinab Jaafar, Jennifer Ayoub, Rena Hamadeh, Samar Baydoun, Gladys Honein-AbouHaidar, Jinan Banna, Mohamad Alameddine, Farah Naja*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Existing evidence marked a prevalent use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies in Lebanon that is concomitant with low rates of disclosure to health care providers and limited knowledge among the general public of safety and side effects of CAM use.

OBJECTIVES: To examine the perspectives of Lebanese CAM users, CAM providers, and health care providers (HCPs) regarding their understanding of CAM and of the Push and Pull factors that drive its use.

METHODS: A qualitative research study was conducted using in-depth interviews, targeting Lebanese adults (CAM users; 18-65 years) (n=14), CAM providers such as yoga instructors, owners of CAM product outlets, herbalists, and religious figures (n=13); and HCPs including physicians, nurses, dietitians, and pharmacists (n=14). The topic guide covered, in addition to the understanding of CAM, the Push and Pull factors driving CAM use. The adults were recruited by convenient sampling, and CAM providers and HCPs using a purposive sampling approach. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and translated into English. Analysis was performed using a qualitative thematic approach. Similarities and differences in the perceptions of the participants with regards to factors that influence CAM use were charted and contrasted, using a triangulated approach.

RESULTS: The three study groups exhibited a similar understanding of CAM, referring to non-conventional therapies used to prevent/treat diseases or to enhance wellbeing. CAM users and CAM providers identified "distrust in HCPs", "lack of patient-centered care in CM", and "limitations and side effects of CM" as important Push factors. All study groups highlighted the limited CAM knowledge of HCPs as a main reason for the lack of patient-centered care. All three groups also underscored the affordability and the social and cultural support for CAM as main enablers of its prevalent use. Unlike HCPs who were skeptical about the safety and effectiveness of CAM, CAM users and CAM providers indicated that most of CAM therapies are safe and efficient.

CONCLUSIONS: The triangulation of perspectives (CAM users, CAM providers, and HCPs) in this study allowed a comprehensive appraisal of CAM use and its drivers. Improving the HCPs' CAM-related knowledge, promoting patient-centered care and fostering an open dialogue between HCPs and CAM providers are among the recommendations of the study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number204
Number of pages14
JournalBMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2022


  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Lebanon
  • Qualitative Research
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Qualitative
  • Middle east


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