• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of brjgenpracRCGP homepageJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralBJGP at RCGPBJGP at RCGP
Br J Gen Pract. Jan 2001; 51(462): 25–30.
PMCID: PMC1313895

Access to complementary medicine via general practice.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The popularity of complementary medicine continues to be asserted by the professional associations and umbrella organisations of these therapies. Within conventional medicine there are also signs that attitudes towards some of the complementary therapies are changing. AIM: To describe the scale and scope of access to complementary therapies (acupuncture, chiropractic, homoeopathy, hypnotherapy, medical herbalism, and osteopathy) via general practice in England. DESIGN OF STUDY: A postal questionnaire sent to 1226 individual general practitioners (GPs) in a random cluster sample of GP partnerships in England. GPs received up to three reminders. SETTING: One in eight (1226) GP partnerships in England in 1995. METHOD: Postal questionnaire to assess estimates of the number of practices offering 'in-house' access to a range of complementary therapies or making National Health Service (NHS) referrals outside the practice; sources of funding for provision and variations by practice characteristics. RESULTS: A total of 964 GPs replied (78.6%). Of these, 760 provided detailed information. An estimated 39.5% (95% CI = 35%-43%) of GP partnerships in England provided access to some form of complementary therapy for their NHS patients. If all non-responding partnerships are assumed to be non-providers, the lowest possible estimate is 30.3%. An estimated 21.4% (95% CI = 19%-24%) were offering access via the provision of treatment by a member of the primary health care team, 6.1% (95% CI = 2%-10%) employed an 'independent' complementary therapist, and an estimated 24.6% of partnerships (95% CI = 21%-28%) had made NHS referrals for complementary therapies. The reported volume of provision within any individual service tended to be low. Acupuncture and homoeopathy were the most commonly available therapies. Patients made some payment for 25% of practice-based provision. Former fundholding practices were significantly more likely to offer complementary therapies than non-fundholding practices, (45% versus 36%, P = 0.02). Fundholding did not affect the range of therapies offered, and patients from former fundholding practices were no more likely to pay for treatment. CONCLUSION: Access to complementary health care for NHS patients was widespread in English general practices in 1995. This data suggests that a limited range of complementary therapies were acceptable to a large proportion of GPs. Fundholding clearly provided a mechanism for the provision of complementary therapies in primary care. Patterns of provision are likely to alter with the demise of fundholding and existing provision may significantly reduce unless the Primary Care Groups or Primary Care Trusts are prepared to support the 'levelling up' of some services.

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (80K).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Budd C, Fisher B, Parrinder D, Price L. A model of cooperation between complementary and allopathic medicine in a primary care setting. Br J Gen Pract. 1990 Sep;40(338):376–378. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • White AR, Resch KL, Ernst E. Complementary medicine: use and attitudes among GPs. Fam Pract. 1997 Aug;14(4):302–306. [PubMed]
  • Perkin MR, Pearcy RM, Fraser JS. A comparison of the attitudes shown by general practitioners, hospital doctors and medical students towards alternative medicine. J R Soc Med. 1994 Sep;87(9):523–525. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Wearn AM, Greenfield SM. Access to complementary medicine in general practice: survey in one UK health authority. J R Soc Med. 1998 Sep;91(9):465–470. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Dixon J, Mays N. New labour, new NHS? BMJ. 1997 Dec 20;315(7123):1639–1640. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from The British Journal of General Practice are provided here courtesy of Royal College of General Practitioners

Formats:

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...

Links

  • PubMed
    PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...