The profiles of adults who consult alternative health practitioners and/or general practitioners

Scand J Prim Health Care. 2007 Jun;25(2):86-92. doi: 10.1080/02813430701267439.


Objective: To compare the profiles of people visiting only a general practitioner (GP), those visiting only a practitioner of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and those visiting both (GP&CAM).

Design: A comparative total population health survey in central Norway (HUNT 2).

Subjects: A total of 54,448 persons 20 years of age and over who answered questions about their use of health services during the previous 12 months.

Variables: Sociodemographic characteristics, self-perceived health, subjective health complaints, and a variety of common diseases.

Results: Some 34,854 (64.0%) of those who answered the health service use question had visited only a GP, 837 (1.5%) only a CAM practitioner, and 4563 (8.4%) both during the last 12 months. The likelihood of being a CAM-only user as compared to a GP-only user was significantly increased (p < 0.005) if the participant was male; aged between 30 and 69; and without cardiovascular disease. The likelihood of being a GP&CAM user compared with a GP-only user was significantly increased (p < 0.005) for those who were female; aged between 30-59; had a higher education level; were non-smokers; had lower perceived global health; had a limiting chronic complaint; had experienced a health complaint during the last 12 months; had musculoskeletal disease; had a psychiatric complaint; and had hay fever.

Conclusion: There were few CAM-only users and they differ from GP-only users by being male, aged 30-69, and without cardiovascular disease. Users of both GP&CAM were less healthy with more complaints and poorer self-reported health than GP- and CAM-only users.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Complementary Therapies* / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Practice* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Norway
  • Self Concept
  • Socioeconomic Factors