Healthcare professional views and experiences of complementary and alternative therapies in obstetric practice in North East Scotland: a prospective questionnaire survey

BJOG. 2014 Jul;121(8):1015-9. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.12618. Epub 2014 Feb 11.


Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) therapy by UK healthcare professionals involved in the care of pregnant women, and to identify key predictors of use.

Design: A prospective survey.

Setting: Maternity services in Grampian, North East Scotland.

Sample: All healthcare professionals (135) involved in the care of pregnant women (midwives, obstetricians, anaesthetists).

Methods: Questionnaire development, piloting, and distribution. Descriptive and inferential statistical analysis.

Results: A response rate of 87% was achieved. A third of respondents (32.5%) had recommended (prescribed, referred, or advised) the use of CAMs to pregnant women. The most frequently recommended CAMs modalities were: vitamins and minerals (excluding folic acid) (55%); massage (53%); homeopathy (50%); acupuncture (32%); yoga (32%); reflexology (26%); aromatherapy (24%); and herbal medicine (21%). Although univariate analysis identified that those who recommended CAMs were significantly more likely to be midwives who had been in post for more than 5 years, had received training in CAMs, were interested in CAMs, and were themselves users of CAMs, the only variable retained in bivariate logistic regression was 'personal use of CAM', with an odds ratio of 8.26 (95% CI 3.09-22.05; P < 0.001).

Conclusion: Despite the lack of safety or efficacy data, a wide variety of CAM therapies are recommended to pregnant women by approximately a third of healthcare professionals, with those recommending the use of CAMs being eight times more likely to be personal CAM users.

Keywords: Attitude; complementary therapies; health personnel; healthcare surveys; obstetrics; pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Complementary Therapies* / methods
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal-Child Health Centers*
  • Obstetrics*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Scotland / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires