The influence of communication and information sources upon decision-making around complementary and alternative medicine use for back pain among Australian women aged 60-65 years.

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Journal Article
Health & social care in the community, 2017
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This study examined factors influencing decision-making on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use for back pain and back pain sufferers' communication about CAM use. A cross-sectional postal survey was conducted in 2011/2012 as a sub-study of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH). The sample contained 1620 women from the 1945-1951 cohort of the ALSWH, aged 60-65 years who were eligible for the sub-study, as they had experienced back pain during 12 months prior to the survey. Of these, 1310 (80.9%) returned completed questionnaires. A significant proportion of women consulted a CAM practitioner (76%, n = 1001) and/or had self-prescribed CAM treatment (75%, n = 985). Of the women who used CAM for their back pain, 20% consulted their general practitioner (GP) prior to using CAM and 34% always informed their GP following CAM use. Forty-three per cent of the women were influenced by their doctors, 39% by friends/colleagues, 36% by family/relatives, 33% by their partner, 30% by a CAM practitioner, 20% by a pharmacist, 16% by a book/magazine, 11% by mass media, 10% by an allied health worker and 6% by the Internet. Our results show that information sources used by women for their decision-making on CAM use differed according to the symptoms. While non-professional information sources (e.g. family/relatives) positively influenced women in their decision to use CAM for a range of back pain-related symptoms (e.g. headaches/migraines), doctors and allied health workers (e.g. nurses) negatively influenced women in their decision to consult a CAM practitioner for a range of back pain-related symptoms (e.g. headaches/migraines, neck pain). Women seek information from a wide range of professional and non-professional sources with regard to their decision-making around CAM use for back pain. Back pain care providers need to ensure effective communication with their back pain patients regarding safe, effective and co-ordinated back pain care options.
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