Research: HENTSCHEL and colleagues,

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HENTSCHEL and colleagues, Klinik Blankenstein, Hattingen, Germany write that complementary medicine is used to varying extent in industrial nations. They write that there are incomplete data regarding the efficacy, safety and costs of such treatment, with little known regarding special features and motivation of individuals choosing complementary medicine. The authors conducted a study to ascertain any sociodemographic, disease-related, psychological and life-style differences between users of complementary and conventional medicine.



419 patients, recruited from specialist internal or general medical practices were divided into 2 groups: Group 1 conventional medicine users: 91 women, 106 men, average age 43.2 years; Group 2 complementary medicine users: 159 women, 63 men, average age 43.2 years. The results from the standardised interview and questionnaire with 168 items was statistically analysed.


Compared to the conventional medicine group, patients treated with complementary medicine clearly differed with respect to sociodemographic, disease-related and psychological and life-style characteristics. The relationship between patient-doctor differed between the groups. Compared to the conventional group, those in the complementary group had a higher educational level and lower risk factors for smoking and alcohol use. Patients from both groups preferred conventional medicine for serious diseases, such as heart attack, tumour and AIDS. CONCLUSIONS: Patients choosing complementary medicine had a healthier life-style. As the efficacy risks and costs of complementary medicine have been inadequately investigated, research in this area should be intensified.



Hentschel C et al. Decision to use complementary medicine: fact oriented or irrational? Dtsch Med Wochenschr 121(50): 1553-60. Dec 13 1996.

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