Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 91, Issue 6, pp 449–453 | Cite as

Concurrent Consultations with Physicians and Providers of Alternative Care: Results from a Population-based Study

  • Nazeem MuhajarineEmail author
  • Cordell Neudorf
  • Kathleen Martin


Objective: We examined the factors related to consultations with both physicians and alternative practitioners, compared with visits to physicians only.

Methods: A telephone survey (random-digit dialling) collected information from 818 adults living in and around Saskatoon. Respondents reported consultations with alternative practitioners and physicians in the previous 12 months.

Results: Approximately one in five respondents had consulted both a physician and an alternative practitioner. Among respondents under 65 years of age, having one or more chronic medical conditions significantly increased the likelihood of concurrent use of care. Men, individuals suffering from back pain or migraines, those reporting an elevated level of distress, and those for whom spiritual values were important were also more likely to use both types of care.

Interpretation: Consultations with alternative care providers occur as an adjunct to, rather than a replacement of visits to physicians. Particular types of medical conditions as well as psychosocial and spiritual factors are determinants of concurrent use of physicians and alternative practitioners.


Objectif: Nous avons examiné les facteurs reliés aux consultations avec les médecins de même qu’avec les thérapeutes alternatifs; nous les avons comparés aux visites effectuées seulement chez les médecins.

Méthodes: À l’aide d’un sondage téléphonique (prélèvement de numéros de téléphone au hasard), des renseignements ont été recueillis auprès de 818 résidentes et résidents de Saskatoon et des environs. Les personnes interrogées ont signalé les visites effectuées chez le thérapeute alternatif et le médecin au cours des 12 derniers mois.

Résultats: Environ 1 personne interrogée sur 5 (19.2%) avait consulté à la fois un médecin et un thérapeute alternatif. Chez les personnes âgées de moins de 65 ans et affligées d’un ou de plusieurs maux chroniques, les chances d’avoir recours aux deux médecines simultanément augmentaient de façon significative. Les hommes et les gens souffrant de maux de dos ou de migraines, ayant signalé un niveau élevé de douleur, ou attachant de l’importance aux valeurs spirituelles étaient également plus enclins à consulter à la fois médecins et thérapeutes alternatifs.

Interprétation: La consultation de thérapeutes alternatifs vient compléter les visites chez le médecin plutôt que de les remplacer. Les maux dont souffrent les patientes et les patients de même que les facteurs psychosociologiques et spirituels jouent un rôle déterminant dans le recours concomitant aux médecins et aux thérapeutes alternatifs.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Millar, WJ. Use of alternative health care practitioners by Canadians. Can J Public Health 1997;88:154–58.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Astin, JA. Why patients use alternative medicine: Results of a national study. JAMA 1998;279:1548–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    MacLennan AH, Wilson DH, Taylor, AW. Prevalence and cost of alternative medicine in Australia. Lancet 1996;347:569–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Thomas KJ, Carr J, Westlake L, Williams, BT. Use of non-orthodox and conventional health care in Great Britain. BMJ 1991;302:207–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bernstein JH, Shuval, JT. Nonconventional medicine in Israel: Consultation patterns of the Israeli population and attitudes of primary care physicians. Soc Sci Med 1997;44:1341–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Eisenberg DM, Kessler RC, Foster C, et al. Unconventional medicine in the United States. Prevalence, costs, and patterns of use. N Engl J Med 1993;328:246–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Shenfield GM, Atkin PA, Kristoffersen, SS. Alternative medicine: An expanding health industry. Med J Aust 1997;166:516–17.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Murray RH, Rubel, AJ. Physicians as healers—unwitting partners in health care. N Engl J Med 1992;326:61–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Blais R, Maiga A, Aboubacar A. How different are users and non-users of alternative medicine? Can J Public Health 1997;88:159–62.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Elder NC, Gillcrist A, Minz R. Use of alternative health care by family practice patients. Arch Fam Med 1997;6:181–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Drivdahl CE, Miser, WF. The use of alternative health care by a family practice population. J Am Board Fam Pract 1998;11:193–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Groves RM, Biemer PP, Lyberg LE, et al. (Eds.), Telephone Survey Methodology. New York, NY: John Wiley, 1988.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Lwanga SK, Lemeshow S. Sample Size Determination in Health Studies. A Practical Manual. Geneva: World Health Organization, 1991;25.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wade TJ, Cairney J. Age and depression in a nationally representative sample of Canadians: A preliminary look at the National Population Health Survey. Can J Public Health 1997;88:297–302.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hosmer D, Lemeshow S. Applied Logistic Regression. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1989;25–58.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Northcott HC, Bachynsky, JA. Concurrent utilization of chiropractic, prescription medicines, nonprescription medicines and alternative health care. Soc Sci Med 1993;37:431–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Furnham A, Forey J. The attitudes, behaviors and beliefs of patients of conventional, vs. complementary (alternative) medicine. J Clin Psychol 1994;50:458–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Cassileth BR, Lusk EJ, Strouse TB, Bodenheimer BJ. Contemporary unorthodox treatments in cancer medicine: A study of patients, treatments, and practitioners. Ann Intern Med 1984;101:105–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Anderson WH, O’Connor BB, MacGregor RR, Schwartz, JS. Patient use and assessment of conventional and alternative therapies for HIV infection and AIDS. AIDS 1993;7:561–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Fuller, RC. Alternative Medicine and American Religious Life. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1989.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nazeem Muhajarine
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cordell Neudorf
    • 2
  • Kathleen Martin
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, College of MedicineUniversity of SaskatchewanCanada
  2. 2.Strategic Health Information and Planning Services, Saskatoon District HealthRoyal University HospitalSaskatoonCanada
  3. 3.Organizational Development and Health, Saskatoon District HealthRoyal University HospitalSaskatoonCanada

Personalised recommendations