In light of both increased healthcare options, and avenues to find information about these health options, patients are now presented with a greater number of decisions regarding how they choose to manage their health. Health care options now include mainstream medicine, and complementary and alternative practices such as chiropractic, meditation, acupuncture, reiki, herbal medicines and yoga. Information avenues now include a wide variety of health care programming on television, magazines dedicated to health and wellness, websites, blogs, and facebook pages, to name a few. This study aims to identify patient or consumer information-seeking behavior in healthcare practices, with a specific focus on the newer treatment approach of integrative medicine, which combines both mainstream and alternative medical practices. Additionally, due to the trend away from paternalistic medicine to a more collaborative structure, this study will look at how increased options for care have influenced the doctor-patient relationship. While previous scholarship has focused on a similar analysis of communication patterns in healthcare, this study includes newer options for healthcare treatment and sources of information, and looks at college students, a less frequently studied population. This study uses surveys to uncover how a younger generation of healthcare consumers is using the increased number of sources and health options available to them. Studying this population is valuable because they may act as a predictor for future healthcare trends. It was concluded that patients have a desire to be active participants in their own health. It was also concluded that although conventional medicine is the treatment approach used by the majority, there is an increasing openness among patients to use complementary and alternative and integrative medicine. The research found that other than doctors, the main sources patients go to for health information and advice are family and friends and the Internet. The final conclusion of this study found a strong relationship exists among doctors and patients, with the opportunity to continue collaboration and shared decision-making.


Johnson, Michelle


Communication Studies


Alternative and Complementary Medicine

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Drew E. Maakestad