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October 2022

Soc Sci Med. 1995 Aug; 41(4): 511-5.

General practitioners' assessment of and interest in alternative medicine in Canada.

Verhoef MJ, Sutherland LR.

Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Canadian physicians' opinions about alternative medicine have, as yet, not been assessed. The objectives of this pilot study were to assess general practitioners': (1) desired involvement in alternative medicine; (2) perceived demand for alternative medicine; and (3) beliefs about the efficacy of different alternative approaches. The study design was a cross-sectional survey of 400 randomly selected Alberta and Ontario general practitioners. Of the 384 eligible physicians, 200 (52%) completed the questionnaire. Seventy-three percent of physicians felt that they should have some knowledge about the most important alternative treatments. However, with respect to other issues, physicians desired less involvement with alternative medicine. Sixty-five percent perceived a demand for alternative medicine from their patients, in particular chiropractic. Alternative medicine was perceived to be needed most for musculoskeletal problems and chronic pain or illness. Chiropractic, hypnosis and acupuncture (for chronic pain) were believed to be most efficacious, while homeopathy and reflexology were considered to be least efficacious. Undergraduate, graduate clinical and continuing medical education will need to address alternative treatments in order to provide physicians with up-to-date and relevant information.

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