Back pain amongst mid-age Australian women: A longitudinal analysis of provider use and self-prescribed treatments

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Journal Article
Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2012, 20 (5), pp. 275 - 282
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Objectives: To analyse use of conventional and complementary and alternative (CAM) practitioners and self-prescribed CAM amongst mid-age Australian women with back pain. Design: Self-completion postal surveys completed in 2004 and 2007, of the mid-age cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's health. Questions asked for written responses about the use of conventional practitioners, CAM practitioners and self-prescribed CAM for treatment of back pain. Setting: Analysis of cross-sectional and longitudinal survey data (n=9820), conducted as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH), which was designed to investigate multiple factors affecting the health and well being of women over a 20-year period. Main outcome measure: Women were asked if they had sought help for back pain in the previous twelve months. Results: The prevalence of back pain was 54.8% (n=5383). The percentage of women who sought help for their back pain was 17.3% (n=1700). Of the women who sought help for back pain, 2% consulted with a CAM practitioner only, 35% consulted a conventional practitioner only and 63% with both a conventional and CAM practitioner. Conclusions: Back pain is prevalent amongst mid-age Australian women, although only one third sought help. Women who sought help for their back pack were high users of CAM (practitioners and self-prescribed) and conventional care providers, consulting a CAM practitioner in complement with conventional biomedical consultations rather than as an alternative. Further research is needed to explore the complex contemporary landscapes of back pain negotiation and management. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
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