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Med J Aust. 2006 Jan 2;184(1):27-31.

The continuing use of complementary and alternative medicine in South Australia: costs and beliefs in 2004.

Author information

  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Adelaide, Women's & Children's Hospital, 72 King William Road, North Adelaide, SA 5006, Australia. alastair.maclennan@adelaide.edu.au

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To survey the use, cost, beliefs and quality of life of users of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

DESIGN:

A representative population survey conducted in 2004 with longitudinal comparison to similar 1993 and 2000 surveys.

PARTICIPANTS:

3015 South Australian respondents over the age of 15 years (71.7% participation).

RESULTS:

In 2004, CAMs were used by 52.2% of the population. Greatest use was in women aged 25-34 years, with higher income and education levels. CAM therapists had been visited by 26.5% of the population. In those with children, 29.9% administered CAMs to them and 17.5% of the children had visited CAM therapists. The total extrapolated cost in Australia of CAMs and CAM therapists in 2004 was AUD$1.8 billion, which was a decrease from AUD$2.3 billion in 2000. CAMs were used mostly to maintain general health. The users of CAM had lower quality-of-life scores than non-users. Among CAM users, 49.7% used conventional medicines on the same day and 57.2% did not report the use of CAMs to their doctor. About half of the respondents assumed that CAMs were independently tested by a government agency; of these, 74.8% believed they were tested for quality and safety, 21.8% for what they claimed, and 17.9% for efficacy.

CONCLUSIONS:

Australians continue to use high levels of CAMs and CAM therapists. The public is often unaware that CAMs are not tested by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for efficacy or safety.

PMID:
16398628
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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