The legacy of 19th-century social theories applied to the study of nonmainstream treatment use continues to affect contemporary research into complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Quantitatively based studies of CAM use have been hindered by the lack of an adequate lexicon, inaccurate characterizations of the people who use CAM, and underestimates of the prevalence of usage. Results from a qualitative prospective cohort study challenge previous stereotypes by indicating that CAM usage does not increase dramatically with the initial diagnosis of cancer and that younger women are more likely to use CAM than older women. Qualitative research methods are uniquely appropriate for obtaining accurate information about health practices that, despite growing acceptance in some areas of society, are still viewed as outside of the mainstream, [complementary and alternative medicine, breast cancer, qualitative health research]
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