Published Papers - Abstract 178

Adams J, Sibbritt D, Easthope G & Young A. The profile of women who consult alternative health practitioners in Australia. Medical Journal of Australia, 2003; 179(6): 297-300

Objectives: To compare the characteristics of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) users and non-users among Australian women.Design: Cross-sectional postal questionnaire conducted during 1996, forming the baseline survey of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Participants: Women aged 18-23 (n=14,779), 45-50 (n=14,099) and 70-75 (n=12,939) years, randomly selected from the Health Insurance Commission (Medicare) data base, with over-sampling of women from rural and remote areas of Australia. Main outcome measures: Consultation with an alternative health practitioner in the twelve months prior to the survey.Results: Women in the mid age cohort were more likely to have consulted an alternative health practitioner in the previous year (28%) than women in the younger cohort (19%) or older cohort (15%). In all age groups, CAM users were more likely to reside in non-urban areas, to report poorer health, have more symptoms and illness and be higher users of conventional health services than CAM non-users. Conclusions: There is clear evidence of use of CAM in parallel with conventional health services by women in Australia. These findings highlight a need for further research exploring the determinants of women’s use of CAM.