Self-prescribed complementary and alternative medicine use for back pain amongst a range of care options: Results from a nationally representative sample of 1310 women aged 60-65 years

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2014, 22 (1), pp. 133 - 140
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Objective: To examine the prevalence and characteristics of women who self-prescribe complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for back pain. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of a nationally-representative sample of women aged 60-65 years from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH). Results: A significant number of women (75.2%, n= 985) self-prescribed one or more CAM for back pain in the previous twelve months. Use of self-prescribed CAM for back pain was not associated with socio-economic status. The most common self-prescribed CAM used by women was supplements (n= 776, 59.2%), vitamins/minerals (n= 592, 45.2%), yoga/meditation (n= 187, 14.3%), herbal medicines (n= 172, 13.1%) and aromatherapy oils (n= 112, 8.6%). Women who visited general practitioners (GPs) more than three times in the previous twelve months were 1.59 times (95% CI: 1.14, 2.22) more likely to self-prescribe CAM for back pain than those women who did not visit GPs. Women who visited a pharmacist three or more times in the previous twelve months were 2.90 times (95% CI: 1.65, 5.09) more likely to self-prescribe CAM for back pain than those women who did not visit a pharmacist. Conclusion: This study identifies substantial use of self-prescribed CAM by women for back pain regardless of their education, income or urban/rural residency. In order to ensure safe, effective practice it is important that all providing and managing health services for back pain sufferers remain mindful of patients' possible use of self-prescribed CAM. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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