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October 2022

Harefuah. 1996 Jan; 130(2): 83-5, 144, 143.

[Consultations with practitioners of alternative medicine]

Bernstein JH, Shmueli A, Shuval JT.

Medical Sociology Program, Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research, Jerusalem.

More than 2,000 Jewish adults, aged 45-75, in urban areas of Israel were interviewed regarding consultations with practitioners of alternative medicine. 6% (122) of the respondents reported visiting such practitioners in the year prior to the interview. Homeopathy was the most frequent therapy, followed by reflexology, naturopathy, and acupuncture. The most common medical complaint was pain, particularly back pain. The most frequent reason for consulting the practitioner was disappointment with the outcome of conventional treatment. 39% of respondents who visited a practitioner were being treated by a conventional physician at the same time, for the same problem. The medical problems of a large majority had been relieved, but 22% said they were not helped by the practitioner. Women were more likely than men to consult a practitioner. Respondents with secondary or higher education were more likely to visit than those with less education. There were no age or socio-economic differences between users and nonusers. The mean payment for the whole series of treatments was NIS 770 (about $250). Respondents who visited practitioners reported worse health and more pain than nonusers, and were also more likely to have visited their conventional primary care physician in the past month. The findings suggest that nonconventional medicine should be seen as complementary to, rather than in competition with conventional medicine.

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