Background:

Previous research has shown that users of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among people with multiple sclerosis are more likely to be women and to have a higher level of education compared with nonusers. This qualitative study was performed to explore the motivations linked to CAM use among highly educated women with multiple sclerosis.

Methods:

The study was based on a phenomenological approach, and 8 semistructured, in-depth qualitative interviews were performed. Data were transcribed verbatim and analyzed through meaning condensation and identification of recurring themes.

Results:

Regarding the informants’ motivations for CAM use, 3 main themes emerged: (1) self-reliance is essential in disease management, (2) conventional health care lacks a holistic approach, and (3) personal experience is the primary guide.

Conclusions:

The interviewees wanted approaches to health care that supported their desire to actively participate in the management of their disease. They were critical of the conventional health care system, and they emphasized the importance of letting their own personal experiences, as well as those of others, guide their decisions.

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Author notes

*CSK and LS contributed equally to this work.