The Australian Complementary Medicine Workforce: A Profile of 1,306 Practitioners from the PRACI Study

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2018, 24 (4), pp. 385 - 394
Issue Date:
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© Copyright 2018, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2018. Objectives: This study aims to describe the Australian complementary medicine (CM) workforce, including practice and professional characteristics. Design: National cross-sectional survey. Settings/Location: Australia. Subjects: Any individual who self-identified as a practitioner qualified in any one of 14 CM professions and working in any state or territory of Australia was eligible to participate in the survey. Interventions: A 19-item online survey was developed following a review of existing CM workforce data and in alignment with other CM workforce survey projects in progress at the time. The survey items were presented under three main constructs: demographic characteristics, professional characteristics, and practice characteristics. Statistical analysis: Descriptive statistical analysis, including frequencies and percentages, of multiple choice survey items was used. Open response items were analyzed to determine the mean, standard deviation (SD), minimum, and maximum. The demographic data were evaluated for representativeness based on previously reported CM workforce figures. Results: The survey was completed by 1306 CM practitioners and was found to be nationally representative compared with the most recent registrant data from the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia. Participants primarily practiced in the most populous Australian states and worked in at least one urban clinical location. Most participants held an Advanced Diploma qualification or lower, obtained their qualification ten more years ago, and practiced in a clinical environment alongside at least one other practitioner from another health profession. Participants reported diverse clinical practice specialties and occupational roles. Per week, participants worked an average of 3.7 days and treated 23.6 clients. Conclusions: The results from this survey of practitioners from most complementary professions in Australia provide new insights into the national complementary medicine workforce. Further exploration of the CM workforce is warranted to inform all who provide patient care and develop health policy for better patient and public health outcomes.
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