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Schweiz Med Wochenschr. 2000 Mar 18;130(11):390-4.

Predictive characteristics of users of alternative medicine.



The use of alternative medicine has become an important factor in health care delivery.


To evaluate patient characteristics, morbidity, functional status, quality of life, satisfaction with care, practice characteristics and health care utilisation in general practice patients using alternative medicine.


Cross-sectional survey of GP patients completing a self-administered questionnaire.


A stratified sample of 36 GP offices in Slovenia. MAIN OUTPUT DATA: Patient's age, sex, educational status, residence, presence of chronic condition, incidence of anxiety or depressive symptoms, incidence of patient-expressed need for emergency care in one year, data on self-care, data on functional status, quality of life, satisfaction with care, incidence of use of out-of-hours services and specialist or hospital services in users versus non-users.


115/1753 patients (6.6%) reported visits to alternative practitioners in 1997. Users of alternative medicine were from midlife age groups, were more likely to have a chronic condition, had a lower perception of life quality and a higher incidence of anxiety and depressive symptoms, and had had more need for emergency treatment. They are heavier users of primary as well as secondary care services; they have changed their GP recently but are not significantly dissatisfied with their current regular GP.


Use of alternative medicine appears to be characteristic of patients with a more active approach to managing their problems. GPs should enquire about the use of alternative medicine by their patients, especially those more likely to seek such help. Raising the question of alternative medicine will improve doctor-patient communication and help to resolve underlying health problems.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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