A national cross-sectional survey of back pain care amongst Australian women aged 60-65

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Journal Article
European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2013, 5 (1), pp. 36 - 43
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Aim of the study: To analyse the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), allied health and biomedicine for back pain amongst Australian women aged 60-65. Methodology: Self-completion postal survey in 2011/2012 of 1310 women who reported seeking help for back pain from the mid-age cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH). Questions asked about their use of, and attitudes towards, CAM, allied health and biomedicine for the treatment of back pain. Results: Intensity of back pain was greater for those who consulted biomedical and allied health practitioners. Women reported seeking help from biomedical and allied health practitioners more quickly after onset of pain than CAM practitioners but the longer their pain persisted the more likely they were to consult CAM practitioners. Use of CAM reflected less perceived benefit of biomedicine and allied health. The perceived differences in approach of CAM practitioners (e.g. more time in consultation, more equal relationship, more holistic approach) may be influential in their use and perceived benefit. Ease of access/availability may also influence use of CAM in particular. Some communication limitations were reported regarding discussing the use of other practitioner groups with biomedical and CAM practitioners. Conclusions: Help for back pain occurs within highly differentiated contexts of care with patients juggling multiple and often ideologically distinct provider groups in order to improve their health and well-being. Further detailed research is required to examine patient motivations and pathways across biomedical, allied health and CAM providers in order to facilitate continuity of clinical care. © 2012 Elsevier GmbH.
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