Isr Med Assoc J. 2001 Aug; 3(8): 584-8.
Characteristics of patients at a complementary medicine clinic in Beer Sheva: summary of the first two years of operation.
Clalit Health Services, Southern Region and Department of Health Systems Management, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel.
BACKGROUND: "Complementary medicine" incorporates several methods of treatment, all of which aim to promote the health and quality of life of the patient. Public interest and demand for complementary medicine services have increased in recent years in Israel, as they have throughout the western world. OBJECTIVE: To characterize patients attending the Complementary Medicine Clinic in southern Israel at the completion of its first 2 years of operation. METHODS: Data for 398 patients selected at random from 4,400 patients treated in the clinic were collected retroactively from the patients' charts. RESULTS: Of those who visited the clinic, 68% were women with an average age of 49 years. Patients attending the clinic had higher rates of hypertension (20%), diabetes (6%) and heart disease (7%) than the general population of patients insured at the Clalit Health Services in the southern region. In addition to musculoskeletal problems (47%), the other most common complaint was emotional problems (13%) such as tension and anxiety. Acupuncture and Shiatsu were the most commonly used types of treatment (61%). Homeopathy was used by 7%. Among patients with musculoskeletal problems, there were significantly more men than women (P = 0.02), the mean age was higher (P = 0.07), and more of them were referred by friends or family (P = 0.06) than those with other problems. CONCLUSIONS: Characterizing patients attending a complementary medicine clinic is important for the planning of marketing and resource management, and can assist primary care physicians in decisions regarding the referral of patients to this type of healthcare.