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Fam Med. 2002 Mar;34(3):206-12.

Use of alternative medicine by patients in a rural family practice clinic.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Guthrie Clinic, Sayre, PA, USA. wdelmundo@yahoo.com



There has been an increasing awareness of the use of alternative medicine and its effect on health care in the United States. However, no previous study has looked at its use among primary care patients in a rural setting. We conducted this study to determine the patterns of use of alternative medicine in this population.


A questionnaire was distributed to 750 adult patients in a family practice clinic in northern Pennsylvania.


Our response rate was 88% (664/750). Forty-seven percent of patients reported using at least one form of alternative medicine during the past year The most-common types used were chiropractic (used by 17.2% of respondents), relaxation techniques (16.9%), herbal medicine (16.9%), and massage (14.2%). The patients surveyed used alternative medicine more for its benefits than because of dissatisfaction with conventional medicine. Only 51% of patients told their physician about their use of alternative medicine.


A significant number of rural family practice patients are using alternative medicine. To better address their patients' needs, primary care physicians should routinely ask patients about their use of alternative medicine and advise them accordingly.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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