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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2016, Vol. 14 ›› Issue (5): 380-388.doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(16)60273-X

• Research Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Perceptions of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine among conventional healthcare practitioners in Accra, Ghana: Implications for integrative healthcare

Irene A. Kretchy1, Harry A. Okere1, Joseph Osafo2, Barima Afrane1, Joseph Sarkodie3, Philip Debrahd   

  1. a Department of Pharmacy Practice and Clinical Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana 
    b Department of Psychology, School of Social Studies, College of Humanities, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana 
    c Department of Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana 
    d Department of Pharmaceutics and Microbiology, School of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
  • Received:2016-05-31 Accepted:2016-07-15 Online:2016-09-15 Published:2016-09-15
  • Contact: Irene A. Kretchy, PhD; E-mail:


Integrative medicine refers to ongoing efforts to combine the best of conventional and evidence-based complementary therapies. While this effort for collaboration is increasing, traditional complementary and alternative medicine (TM-CAM) remains poorly integrated into the current healthcare system of Ghana. At present, it is not clear if practitioners of mainstream medicine favor integrative medicine. The present study, therefore, sought to explore the perceptions of conventional healthcare professionals on integrative medicine.


A qualitative design composed of semi-structured interviews was conducted with 23 conventional healthcare professionals comprising pharmacists, physicians, nurses and dieticians from two quasi-government hospitals in Accra, Ghana.


Participants' knowledge of TM-CAM was low, and although they perceived alternative medicine as important to current conventional healthcare in Ghana, they expressed anxieties about the potential negative effects of the use of TM-CAM. This paradox was found to account for the low levels of use among these professionals, as well as the low level of recommendation to their patients. The practitioners surveyed recommended that alternative medicine could be integrated into mainstream allopathic healthcare in Ghana through improving knowledge, training as well as addressing concerns of safety and efficacy. These findings are discussed under the themes: the knowledge gap, the paradox of TM-CAM, experience of use and prescription, and guided integration. We did not observe any differences in views among the participants.


The conventional healthcare professionals were ready to accept the idea of integrative medicine based on knowledge of widespread use and the potential role of TM-CAM products and practices in improving healthcare delivery in the country. However, to achieve an institutional integration, practitioners' understanding of TM-CAM must be improved, with specific attention to issues of safety, regulation and evidence-based practice of TM-CAM products and services in Ghana.

Key words: Perceptions, Integrative medicine, Medicine, Traditional, Complementary therapies, Healthcare qualitative research, Ghana

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