Room for improvement: complementary therapy users and the Australian health system

Vivian Lin, Rachel Elizabeth Canaway, Bronwyn J Carter, Lenore Hilda Manderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Context: People with chronic conditions who are often in contact with the health-care system are well placed to reflect on how services meet their needs. Some research characterizes people who use complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) as a distinct group who opt out of the mainstream health system. However, many CAM users are people with chronic or terminal health conditions who concurrently use mainstream health-care services. The difference in perspectives between people with chronic conditions who do or do not use CAM has received little attention by researchers. Objective: To explore the views of CAM users with chronic conditions and identify their perspectives on the health system. Design and Setting: In-depth interviews and a self-administered questionnaire were used to collect data on care-seeking, self-management and CAM use among people with type 2 diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease living in Victoria, Australia. Results: One in four CAM practitioner users was partly motivated to use CAM as a result of their dissatisfaction with the mainstream health system. In general, their dissatisfaction mirrored the concerns of the general population. This included the perceived lack of a humanistic or person-centred approach, which was central to problems relating to individuals clinical encounters as well as to health system design. Discussion and Conclusion: Participants concerns suggest room for improvement in the Australian health system to better reflect patients needs. A systems approach is needed to reorient health-care practitioners to modify the organization of care because of the incentives embedded in the structure of the health-care system
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1451 - 1462
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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