Research: BLAIS and colleagues, Gro

Listed in Issue 32


BLAIS and colleagues, Groupe de recherche interdisciplinaire en santé, Université de Montréal, Quebec Canada. compared the demographic characteristics, health profile and utilisation of medical services between users and non-users of alternative medicine in the province of Quebec, Canada.



The authors linked respondents survey replies with medical service records from the 1987 health survey. Users of alternative medicine practitioners were matched by diagnosis and area of residence with those who visited physician practitioners (non-users).


There were differences in age, activity, education and income between users and non-users of alternative medicine . Following adjustments for age, education and income, both groups had similar health profile however users of alternative medicine had made fewer medical visits in the previous year.


Alternative medicine attracts a particular group of people and more research is required in order to understand the reasons people visit alternative rather than conventional practitioners of medicine.


Blais R et al. How different are users and non-users of alternative medicine? Can J Public Health 88(3): 159-62. May-Jun 1997.


There is a seemingly endless procession of research studies from countries all over the world, all directed at finding out why people wish to use non-drug, more natural treatment approaches, and what distinguishes these people from those who use conventional medicine. It seems to me quite simple and straightforward that the majority of people, given the choice, and being able to afford to pay for treatment, would prefer gentler therapies free from major side effects. Unfortunately, this is not presently an option for the majority of non-affluent people when most complementary treatments are not available on the NHS. However, times are changing, and within the next 5-10 years, therapies such as acupuncture, homoeopathy, massage, aromatherapy, nutritional and herbal therapy and osteopathy will become increasingly available through the NHS.

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