Choosing non-conventional treatments: consumers' attempt at controlling health care

Document Type


Publication Date



Purpose – The purpose of this study is to explore the determinants of consumer's propensity to choose non-conventional treatment protocols using control theory as the theoretical framework.

Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected from a consumer panel using a self-administered questionnaire. The sample consisted of 350 US-based “Baby Boomer” consumers.

Findings – The results of this study indicate that consumers' health locus of control self-efficacy, and neuroticism impact their propensity to use non-conventional treatments. Contrary to previous studies, consumers' health value was not a significant moderator except in the case of internal health locus of control.

Practical implications – The findings of this study provide guidance to public policy makers, health care providers, and managers of the conventional and non-conventional pharmaceutical industries. Specially, the results reify the importance of the collaborative efforts of public policy makers and health care practitioners alike to proactively inform consumers of the issues underlying unsupervised use of non-conventional medications. The results suggest greater governance is needed to control the marketing of non-conventional medications. Overall, this research provides prescriptive guidance for marketers of both non-conventional and conventional treatments, suggesting how better promotional and integrated communications may effectively serve their target markets.

Originality/value – The paper examines an unexplored yet rapidly growing consumption behavior in the USA: the unprecedented use of non-conventional treatments. Evaluation of this consumer trend has largely focused on demographic factors relative to adopters (and non-adopters). Control theory affords a conceptual foundation for exploring individual-level factors that have been overlooked in previous empirical studies.


Copyright 2010 Emerald

A link to full text has been provided for authorized users.

Publication Title

Journal of Consumer Marketing

Published Citation

Rajamma, Rajasree K., and Lou E. Pelton. "Choosing non-conventional treatments: consumers' attempt at controlling health care." Journal of Consumer Marketing 27, no. 2 (2010): 127-138. doi: 10.1108/07363761011027231.



Peer Reviewed