The system of referrals that occurs between allopathic practitioners is well-known. Primary care physicians refer to specialists for treatment of various conditions. Specialists, in turn, refer to other specialists. One of the early goals of this research was to determine whether a similar system was in existence among holistic practitioners. From the information gathered, it is clear that the referrals that take place are based primarily on personal relationships between practitioners. A reflexologist, for example, who feels that massage therapy or energy work would aid in a patient's particular problem will readily refer that patient to another practitioner who they know to be skilled in these techniques. Generally, friends refer to friends.
However, several alternative practitioners mentioned referring a patient to a physician, especially in the cases
of acute illness. When uncovering a problem that he feels reflexology cannot handle, he generally tells someone
to "go see your family doctor." If the patient asks for a specific referral, he may then give the name
of a physician known to be open minded to holistic practices.
The physicians interviewed did mention situations under which they would consider referrals to alternative practitioners. Dr. Bazzoli, in many ways an alternative practitioner himself, regularly recommends massage therapy to patients, and refers to a number of specific therapists in the area. However, few holistic practitioners report receiving any referrals from allopathic medical personnel. As is found in many levels of interaction, referrals are based on personal interactions. A physician familiar with holistic practitioners and the they techniques they employ is generally more open to the idea of network between medical systems. One such referral came to a practitioner of therapeutic touch from a physician under whom she had formerly work. Professional and personal respect seem inextricably twined.
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