A longitudinal analysis of self-prescribed complementary and alternative medicine use by a nationally representative sample of 19,783 Australian women, 2006-2010

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2015, 23 (5), pp. 699 - 704
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© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Background: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is increasingly popular amongst general populations around the world with women constituting substantial CAM users. However, self-prescribed CAM use does raise potential safety concerns and so it is important to identify those risk factors associated with self-prescribed CAM use. Methods: Data was obtained from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH). Longitudinal data analyses were conducted on questionnaire data from the 1973-78 cohort (. n=. 9,145) and the 1946-51 cohort (. n=. 10,638), collected over the period 2006-2010. Results: In the 1973-78 cohort, use of self-prescribed CAM was 73.2% in 2006 and 75.3% in 2009. For the 1946-51 cohort, use of self-prescribed CAM was 73.9% in 2007 and 74.7% in 2010. There were similar levels of use of individual self-prescribed CAM, with the exception that the use of herbal medicine was much higher among the 1946-51 cohort (20% vs. 27%). There was a substantial increase over three years in the use of vitamins/minerals in both cohorts (21% and 19%, respectively). In contrast, there was a considerable decline over three years in use of aromatherapy oils in both cohorts (34% and 28%, respectively). Conclusion: Self-prescribed CAM use is popular amongst women in Australia and it is important that conventional practitioners providing women's health care be cognizant of such use amongst their patients. In order to ensure effective practice, there is a need for further research to explore women's decision-making and experiences around self-prescribed CAM use.
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