A longitudinal analysis of mid-age women's use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in Australia, 1996-1998

Women Health. 2004;40(4):41-56. doi: 10.1300/j013v40n04_03.


Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has become increasingly popular amongst healthcare consumers world-wide. As such, CAM is now an important public health issue with taking non-prescription medications. This paper constitutes an exploratory investigation into CAM use over time. As such, there is need for further research to provide in-depth examination of the adoption and relinquishment of CAM use over a longer time period. serious implications for healthcare organization and delivery. While previous studies have provided a profile of CAM users, there remains very limited analysis of CAM consumption over time. The purpose of this paper is to describe the changing use of CAM practitioners over time by 11,454 mid-age women in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. Over the study period (1996-1998), 10% of women adopted the use of CAM and 9% relinquished CAM. The predominant factor found to be predictive of CAM adoption was changes in health status. Specifically, those women experiencing more illness over time are more likely to adopt CAM than those experiencing no change or better health. CAM relinquishment was associated with use of non-prescription medications, where women were more likely to relinquish CAM if they never used non-prescription medications or if they stopped.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Decision Making
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Rural Population
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population
  • Women's Health*