Do women who consult with naturopaths or herbalists have a healthy lifestyle?: a secondary analysis of the Australian longitudinal study on women's health.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
BMC complementary medicine and therapies, 2020, 20, (1)
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BACKGROUND:Australians report consulting with a naturopaths or herbalists to improve their wellbeing, yet little is known about the associations between these consultations and the patients' health behaviours. This cross-sectional study aimed to examine the relationship between health behaviour and consultations with naturopaths or herbalists in three age cohorts of Australian women. METHODS:Women aged 19-25 years, 31-36 years, and 62-67 years from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH) were surveyed regarding smoking, alcohol or drug use, physical activity and dietary behaviour; and whether they consulted with naturopath/herbalists in the last 12 months. Associations were analysed using multivariable logistic regression. RESULTS:A total of 9151 (19-25 years), 8200 (31-36 years) and 11,344 (62-67 years) women were included in the analysis. Between 7.3 and 11.9% of women reported to have consulted with naturopaths/herbalists in the last 12 months. Women of all cohorts consulting with naturopath/herbalist were less likely to smoke (19-25 yrs.: Odds Ratio [OR] 0.61; 31-36 years: OR 0.58; 62-67 years: OR 0.29), more likely to report at least moderate levels of physical activity (19-25 yrs.: OR 1.41; 31-36 years: OR 1.34; 62-67 years: OR 1.34), and the use of vegetarian diets(19-25 yrs.: OR 1.40; 31-36 years: OR 1.77; 62-67 years: OR 2.28), compared to women not consulting with naturopaths/herbalists. Women consulting with naturopaths/herbalists however were also more likely to have used marijuana (19-25 yrs.: OR 1.18; 31-36 years: OR 1.42), or illicit drugs in the last 12 months (19-25 yrs.: OR 1.24; 31-36 years: OR 1.40). CONCLUSIONS:Consultations with a naturopath or herbalist are associated with positive health behaviours that are protective of internationally important non-communicable diseases. Psychoactive drug use is also reported among women visiting a naturopath or herbalist. Further research is needed to understand the role naturopaths play in advising patients with regards to health and non-healthy behaviours.
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