Ischemic Stroke Patients' Decision-Making Process in Their Use of Western Medicine and Alternative and Complementary Medicine

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Stroke is ranked third among the top 10 causes of death in Taiwan. Besides a high mortality rate, stroke survivors are often left with physical or functional sequela. This study aimed to explore ischemic stroke patients' decision-making process using Western medicine (WM) and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This study is a qualitative study based on grounded theory. A total of 12 participants were recruited. Findings revealed that the participants accepted WM and CAM treatments following the onset of ischemic stroke. Three categories and several subcategories emerged from stroke patients' decision-making process. These are “uncertainty of stroke,” “delicate balance between WM and CAM,” and “reestablishing confidence and faith.” Eventually, they exhibited the core category of “breakthrough and the pursuit of a sense of rebirth.” This study also found that the participants were unwilling to inform their health care professionals on their use of CAM. Therefore, health care professionals should empathize with the views and needs of their patients and respect their decision to combine WM with CAM. The views of other medical teams concerning CAM into their analysis of patients' decision-making process are recommended. Therefore, comprehensive insight into ischemic stroke patients' decision-making process for using CAM can be further explored.

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