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Gesundheitswesen. 2014 Nov;76(11):715-21. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1364013. Epub 2014 Feb 24.

[Complementary and alternative medicine in the German outpatient setting: extent, structure and reasons for provision].

[Article in German]

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Institut für Medizinmanagement und Gesundheitswissenschaften, Universität Bayreuth, Bayreuth.
Medizinische Soziologie - Institut für Epidemiologie und Präventivmedizin, Universität Regensburg, Regensburg.



Research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has mainly focused on CAM utilisation by patients. Fewer studies have analysed extent and structure of CAM provision or the reasons why physicians offer CAM as a therapeutic option in the outpatient setting.


A standardised questionnaire was developed addressing reasons and patterns of CAM provision. The questionnaire was sent by post to 2,396 general practitioners and specialists in 9 selected German districts. 553 physicians participated in the survey (23%).


63% of the respondents (n=350) answered that they had provided some sort of CAM to their patients within a period of 12 months preceding the study. The most frequently provided methods were acupuncture/traditional Chinese medicine, herbal remedies and homeopathy. In the sample, 90% of the orthopaedists were CAM providers, the highest rate among the participating disciplines. Several reasons for offering CAM were identified: conviction of therapeutic effectiveness regarding the patient's situation (68%), aspects of therapeutic freedom (47%) or less harmful side effects than conventional therapies (34%). 6% provide CAM for monetary reasons.


Findings suggest that the provision of CAM is widespread in the German outpatient setting. However, it has to be taken into account that a selection bias may apply which may lead to an overestimation of CAM provision. Doctors' reasons to offer CAM are manifold; therapeutic reasons seem to outweigh economic motives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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