The profile of women who consult alternative health practitioners in Australia

Med J Aust. 2003 Sep 15;179(6):297-300. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2003.tb05551.x.


Objectives: To compare the characteristics of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) users and non-users among Australian women.

Design: Cross-sectional postal questionnaire conducted during 1996, forming the baseline survey of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health.

Participants: Women aged 18-23 years (n = 14 779), 45-50 years (n = 14 099) and 70-75 years (n = 12 939), randomly selected from the Health Insurance Commission database, with over-sampling of women from rural and remote areas of Australia.

Main outcome measures: Consultation with an alternative health practitioner in the 12 months before the survey.

Results: Women in the mid-age cohort were more likely to have consulted an alternative health practitioner in the previous year (28%) than women in the younger cohort (19%) or older cohort (15%). In all age groups, CAM users were more likely than CAM non-users to reside in non-urban areas, to report poorer health, have more symptoms and illness, and be higher users of conventional health services.

Conclusions: Women in non-urban Australia are more likely to use CAM but do so in in parallel with conventional health services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Socioeconomic Factors