Complement Ther Med 2001 (Sep); 9 (3): 178-185
Long L, Huntley A, Ernst E
Department of Complementary Medicine,
School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences,
University of Exeter, UK
With the increasing demand and usage of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) by the general public, it is vital that healthcare professionals can make informed decisions when advising or referring their patients who wish to use CAM. Therefore they might benefit from advice by CAM-providers as to which treatment can be recommended for which condition. AIM: The primary aim of this survey was to determine which complementary therapies are believed by their respective representing professional organizations to be suited for which medical conditions.
METHOD: 223 questionnaires were sent out to CAM organizations representing a single CAM therapy. The respondents were asked to list the 15 conditions they felt benefited most from their CAM therapy, the 15 most important contra-indications, the typical costs of initial and any subsequent treatments and the average length of training required to become a fully qualified practitioner. The conditions and contra-indications quoted by responding CAM organizations were recorded and the top five of each were determined. Treatment costs and hours of training were expressed as ranges.
RESULTS: Of the 223 questionnaires sent out, 66 were completed and returned. Taking undelivered questionnaires into account, the response rate was 34%. Two or more responses were received from CAM organizations representing twelve therapies: aromatherapy, Bach flower remedies, Bowen technique, chiropractic, homoeopathy, hypnotherapy, magnet therapy, massage, nutrition, reflexology, Reiki and yoga. The top seven common conditions deemed to benefit by all twelve therapies, in order of frequency, were: stress/anxiety, headaches/migraine, back pain, respiratory problems (including asthma), insomnia, cardiovascular problems and musculoskeletal problems. Aromatherapy, Bach flower remedies, hypnotherapy, massage, nutrition, reflexology, Reiki and yoga were all recommended as suitable treatments for stress/anxiety. Aromatherapy, Bowen technique, chiropractic, hypnotherapy, massage, nutrition, reflexology, Reiki and yoga were all recommended for headache/migraine. Bowen technique, chiropractic, magnet therapy, massage, reflexology and yoga were recommended for back pain. None of the therapies cost more than l60 for an initial consultation and treatment. No obvious correlation between length of training and treatment cost was apparent.
CONCLUSIONS: The recommendations by CAM organizations responding to this survey may provide guidance to health care professionals wishing to advise or refer patients interested in using CAM.