Complementary medicine use by the Australian population: A critical mixed studies systematic review of utilisation, perceptions and factors associated with use

Publication Type:
Journal Article
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016, 16 (1)
Issue Date:
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© 2016 The Author(s). Background: There is increasing evidence that complementary medicine (CM) services are being used by a substantial proportion of the Australian population and this topic has attracted keen interest from primary health care providers and policy makers. This article outlines the first summative critical review of the predictors of CM use in Australia as well as the characteristics and perceptions of Australian CM users over the last 14 years. Methods: A literature search was conducted to ascertain original research from 2000 to 2014 in the AMED; CINAHL; and PubMed databases. Selected articles were subject to a critical appraisal analysis to identify the quality of the article. The search was confined to peer reviewed original articles published in English which identified the nature of CM services use in Australia. Results: The findings indicate a correlation between CM users and gender, with reports of a higher rate of use from females compared to males. Female CM users are more likely to be middle-aged with a higher education and higher annual income in comparison to female non-CM users. An association between resident location and use of CM disciplines was also identified with reports of rural residents utilising manual therapies more frequently compared to urban residents. CM users are more likely to seek CM services for a range of chronic conditions including diseases identified as National Health Priority Areas by the Australian Government. Conclusions: This article provides the first comprehensive review examining the nature of CM use in Australia. The review findings offer important insights into the characteristics and features of CM use in Australia and provide insights for national and regional primary health care initiatives and of interest to medical doctors, allied health professionals, CM practitioners, researchers and policy makers.
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