Objective: Within the framework of the Swiss governmental Program of Evaluation of Complementary Medicine (PEK) we assessed the prevalence, use, perceived effectiveness and appreciation of complementary medicine (CAM) in Switzerland, according to published surveys.
Materials and methods: Search was performed through electronic databases, by hand-searching and by contacting experts at universities, hospitals, health insurances, patient organizations and pharmaceutical companies.
Results: Surveys were carried out among the general population (40%), physicians (20%), hospitalized patients (30%) and obstetric institutions (5%). The number of publications increased strongly between 1981 and 2004. The mean +/- SD prevalence (use) of CAM is 49 +/- 22% and varies depending on the survey's topic and the population group interviewed. The acceptance, appreciation or demand for CAM among individuals specifically interviewed on CAM is 91 +/- 6%. When asked about favored general improvements in healthcare, 6.5% of the individuals spontaneously mentioned CAM. CAM therapies are considered to be effective by the majority of CAM users and by about 40% of cancer patients using CAM. Approximately 50% of the population stated a preference for hospitals that also provide CAM. 85% of the population wishes the costs for CAM to be covered by the basic health insurance.
Conclusion: Approximately half of the Swiss population has used CAM. CAM treatment is considered to be effective by the majority of CAM users. About 50% of the population would prefer hospitals that also provide CAM therapies and the majority of the population wishes the cost for CAM therapies to be covered by basic health insurance.