Do individuals gain from multiple sources of information that are often dissonant, such as expert knowledge and lay knowledge of health interventions? What are the foundations for any gain? For these questions, this paper investigates differences in the perceived health outcomes among the users of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) who found their selection of CAM treatments on different knowledge bases. By using data from the 2012 US National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the paper shows that CAM users report better health outcomes in the treatment episodes where they use CAM treatments that experts (i.e. health care professionals) or lay people (i.e. family/friends/co-workers) recommend, compared to those episodes where they use CAM treatments that nobody recommends. More interestingly, CAM users report even better health outcomes from the treatment episodes where they use CAM treatments that both professionals and family/friends/co-workers recommend, compared to those episodes where they use CAM treatments that only professionals or only family/friends/co-workers recommend. The paper conceptualizes these gains as emerging from users’ mobilization of the thick knowledge that experts and lay people produce together. It stresses the importance of health communication where expert accounts and lay accounts are both paid heed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Library and Information Sciences