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Aust J Public Health. 1993 Jun; 17(2): 135-44.

Choosing alternative therapy: an exploratory study of sociodemographic characteristics and motives of patients resident in Sydney.

Lloyd P, Lupton D, Wiesner D, Hasleton S.

Department of Public Health, University of Sydney.

Disenchantment with allopathic medicine has coincided with an upsurge in recent years in Australians consulting alternative therapists about their health care needs. Two major government studies have provided valuable independent evidence about the sociodemographic characteristics of users of alternative therapies and about their attitudes to health and medical care. However, the focus of these inquiries was predominantly on the users of chiropractic and osteopathy, just two of the modalities which make up this diverse field. To investigate, among other things, who consults alternative practitioners, how they come to choose a particular therapist, and whether, and on what basis, they have abandoned cosmopolitan medical care or use a combination of alternative and allopathic medicine, we conducted a cross-sectional survey of 289 patients of eight Sydney practices providing a range of alternative modalities. Findings indicate that far from being representative of the Australian community, the majority of our sample population came from a very select group, with a narrow range of socioeconomic backgrounds. The health risk behaviour of those surveyed was also significantly different from that exhibited by the population in general.

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