In most societies when people become ill or suffer discomfort there are often many ways that they may seek help. The more complex a society, the more therapeutic options there are available, most of which need to be paid for. Therefore, western and non-western modern urbanized societies are likely to demonstrate medical pluralism. In the UK there are a wide range of therapeutic options available for the relief of physical discomfort and these fall into three sectors:
• popular sector
• professional sector.
Often these therapeutic options are based on different premises and arise in different cultures, and yet they coexist and may even overlap each other. An example of this coexistence would be acupuncture, which is Chinese in origin and, in China, the use and availability of western medicine. Often it is more the efficacy of the treatment that is important to the patient who is experiencing discomfort rather than the knowledge of the origins of the treatment.
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