To describe Victorian general practitioners’ attitudes towards and use of a range of complementary therapies.
A self-administered postal survey sent to a random sample of 800 general practitioners (GPs) in Victoria in July 1997.
488 GPs (response rate, 64%).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
GPs’ knowledge; opinions about harmfulness and effectiveness; appropriateness for GPs to practise; perceived patient demand; need for undergraduate education; referral rates to complementary practitioners; and training in and practice of each therapy.
Acupuncture, hypnosis and meditation are well accepted by the surveyed GPs, as over 80% have referred patients patients to practitioners of these therapies and nearly half have considered using them. General practitioners have trained in various therapies–meditation (34%), acupuncture (23%), vitamin and mineral therapy (23%), hypnosis (20%), herbal medicine (12%), chiropractic (8%), naturopathy (6%), homoeopathy (5%), spiritual healing (5%), osteopathy (4%), aroma-therapy (4%), and reflexology (2%). A quarter to a third were interested in training in chiropractic, herbal medicine, naturopathy and vitamin and mineral therapy. General practitioners appear to underestimate their patients’ use of complementary therapies.
There is evidence in Australia of widespread acceptance of acupuncture, meditation, hypnosis and chiropractic by GPs and lesser acceptance of the other therapies. These findings generate an urgent need for evidence of these therapies’ effectiveness.
Complementary and alternative medicine: an educational, attitudinal and research challenge. [Med J Aust. 2000]