Social and Cultural Factors Affecting Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Use during Menopause in Sydney and Bologna

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:836234. doi: 10.1155/2013/836234. Epub 2013 Dec 26.


Background. Previous surveys found CAM use during menopause to be popular. This paper compares the results from two surveys (Sydney and Bologna) to examine factors that determine the extent and pattern of CAM use to alleviate menopausal symptoms. Methods. Women, aged 45-65 years, who were symptomatic when transitioning through menopause or asymptomatic but taking menopause-specific treatments, were recruited in Sydney (n=1,296) and Bologna (n=1,106) to complete the same voluntary, anonymous, and self-administered questionnaire. The results were reanalysed using stratified analyses to determine similarities and differences. Results. Demographics of the two cohorts differed significantly. CAM was more popular in Sydney. The most significant determinants of CAM use were the use of CAM for other conditions besides menopause and the severity of vasomotor symptoms. Occupational status was a determinant of CAM use amongst Bologna respondents only. In order to relieve symptoms, Australian and Italian women used different CAM modalities whose effectiveness was generally perceived as good. Conclusion. CAM use is popular amongst menopausal women from Sydney and Bologna. Differences in the patterns of CAM use seem to depend on CAM availability and on the educational level and professional status of users. The complex interaction between market, social, and cultural factors of CAM use seems to be more influential on women's choice of CAM than the available evidence of their effectiveness.