From parallel to partnership

Debra E. Orr (Roosevelt University, Schaumburg, Illinois, USA)
Gloria Bravo Gutiérrez (Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, Arizona, USA)
Don Fette (Barrett Honors College, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Publication date: 8 July 2019



In the USA, there has recently been an unprecedented convergence of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) with mainstream biomedical care. This confluence may lead to a deeply rooted philosophical conflict. This qualitative study works to identify factors that health-care leaders can use, which will build a pathway to greater integrative practice between medical doctors and CAM practitioners – from parallel existence to partnership – by examining the tensions between biomedical medicine and naturopathic medicine. The purpose of this study is to offer short-term suggestions for partnership and long-term recommendations for better understanding.


An original qualitative study using semi-structured with CAM practitioners and biomedical practitioners.


Areas of conflict that are preventing synergy are identified and a pathway for health-care leaders to follow to create greater integration and partnerships is suggested.

Research limitations/implications

This is a qualitative and exploratory study that has significant limitations on generalizability.

Practical implications

This study suggest steps that both types of health-care practitioners can take to increase their success at working together on an individual level, a group level, an organizational level and on an industry-wide basis, as well as provide a specific pathway to create greater integrative practice for health-care leaders.

Social implications

The results indicate that stronger partnerships between different types of medical practitioners increase patient choice, patient satisfaction and outcomes.


Increasing interested in CAM modalities is driving more contact between CAM practitioners and biomedical practitioners. This contact is best established in partnership between practitioners rather than in parallel. This original research outlines the sources of conflict and provides recommendations for encouraging greater synergy.



Orr, D., Bravo Gutiérrez, G. and Fette, D. (2019), "From parallel to partnership", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

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