Alternative medicine

A new in-depth study has mapped the use of complementary and alternative medicine in Europe

A new large study has mapped the use of complementary and alternative medicine in Europe. She has found that complementary and alternative medicine is used for a variety of health problems, particularly in situations where the help provided by conventional medicine is considered by the patient to be insufficient.

Headaches, backaches and other vexing conditions have caused people to turn to other forms of treatment. The study found that women and college graduates use complementary and alternative medicine more often than others.

Research data was collected from more than 20 countries, with around 40,000 respondents taking part in a study conducted in cooperation between the universities of Helsinki, Tampere and Turku. Four types of treatment were examined: traditional Asian treatments (Chinese medicine, acupuncture, acupressure), alternative medicines (homeopathy, herbal remedies), manual therapies (massage, chiropractic, osteopathy, reflexology) and body therapies -mind (hypnosis and spiritual healing) .

Treatments used by one in four people

According to the results, one in four subjects in the study population had used complementary and alternative treatments in the past year. The most commonly used forms of treatment were massage (12%), homeopathy (6%), osteopathy (5%) and herbal remedies (5%). Most subjects had experienced only one form of treatment.

“We also found that alternative and complementary medicine was used primarily in a complementary way, or with conventional medicine. This needs to be kept in mind both in practical patient care and in public discourse, where these treatments are often presented as an alternative to conventional medicine,” says Teemu Kemppainen, a researcher at the University of Helsinki.

Substantial differences between countries in the use of treatments

The prevalence of treatments varied considerably between the study countries. In Germany, nearly 40% of the study population had used complementary and alternative forms of treatment, while in Hungary the corresponding proportion was 10%. In Finland and Estonia, 35% of respondents have used these forms of treatment.

“The differences are partly explained by the fact that in some countries these treatments are covered by insurance. Some countries also train general practitioners in complementary medicine,” notes Kemppainen.

The study focused on the use of complementary and alternative medicine in Europe. It was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. The study is based on data from the European Social Survey (Round 7), collected in 2014.

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