COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE USE BY CANADIAN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

Main Article Content

Amy M Teper
Ellen Tsai

Keywords

CAM use, complementary and alternative medicine, student health

Abstract

Background


Studies investigating Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) prevalence are outdated and are generalized across different demographic groups due to their national scope. Determining trends among specific populations is necessary to gain insight into the growing popularity of CAM.


 Objectives


To  determine  the  prevalence  and  factors  associated  with  CAM  use  among  Canadian  university undergraduate students and to determine student views regarding CAM research, education and policy- making decisions.


Methods


Two arbitrarily selected undergraduate student classes at Queen’s University were surveyed for this cross- sectional  descriptive  study.  Information  was  provided  by  128  respondents  via  questionnaire  (75% response rate) on key demographics, CAM use and satisfaction with mainstream Canadian healthcare. Upon completion of the survey, voluntary participation was requested for the interview portion resulting in 7 semi-structured qualitative interviews.


Results


Of the 128 participants, 90 (70%) claimed to be users of at least one CAM modality. Female gender was strongly associated with CAM use (p<0.001). Other characteristics that may be correlated include being enrolled in a health-related academic program, being dissatisfied with certain aspects of the healthcare system and having parents who use CAM. The majority of respondents desired more research and education on CAM and more collaboration between the two healthcare streams.


 Conclusions


Canadian university undergraduate students are active CAM users and interest in CAM is high among this population. Further investigation is required to ensure that students are using CAM safely and appropriately.

Abstract 86 | PDF Downloads 60

References

1. Tataryn D, Verhoef M. Combining conventional, complementary and alternative health care: A vision of integration. In: Health Canada, Perspectives on Complementary and Alternative Health Care: a collection of papers prepared for Health Canada 2001;VII.87-93.
2. Barnes PM, Powell- Griner E, McFann K, et al.Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults: United States, 2002. Advanced Data No.343, May 27, 2004.
3. Eisenberg DM, Kessler RC, Foster C, et al. Unconventional medicine in the United States. N Engl J Med 1993;328:246-52.
4. Eisenberg DM, Davis RB, Ettner SL, et al. Trends in alternative medicine use in the United States, 1990- 1997. JAMA 1998;280:1569-75.
5. Feldman RH, Laura R. The use of complementary and alternative medicine practices among Australian university students. Complement Health Pract Rev 2004;9(3):173-9.
6. Angus Reid Group Inc. Use and danger of alternative medicines and practices: Parts I and II. Consumer poll conducted by CTV/Angus Reid Group Poll in August 1997; 1998.
7. Ramsay C, Walker M, Alexander J. Alternative medicine in Canada: Use and public attitudes. Public Policy Sources, 21. Vancouver, BC: Fraser Institute, 1999.
8. Esmail N. Complementary and alternative medicine in Canada: Trends in use and public attitudes, 1997- 2006. Public Policy Sources.
9. Mays N, Pope C. Qualitative Research: Rigour and qualitative research. Br Med J 1995;311:109–12.
10. Astin, J. Why patients use alternative medicine.JAMA 1998;279:1548-53.
11. Verhoef MJ, Russell ML, Love EJ. Alternative medicine use in rural Alberta. Can J Pub Health 1994;83(3):308-9.