[Utilization of complimentary and alternative health services in Iceland]

Björg Helgadóttir, Rúnar Vilhjálmsson, Thóra Jenný Gunnarsdóttir
Læknablađiđ 2010, 96 (4): 267-73

OBJECTIVE: Westerners increasingly use complimentary and alternative (CAM) methods for curing illness and promoting health. The central ideas of CAM appear to resonate with large segments of the general public. Little is known about CAM use in Iceland. The purpose of the study was to assess the scope of utilization of CAM providers and the likely explanatory factors.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The data come from a national postal health survey that took place during the Fall of 2006. A sample of Icelandic adults, age 18-75, was randomly drawn from the National Register. 1532 individuals responded to the survey yielding a 60% response rate.

RESULTS: Almost 32% of the respondents had used a CAM provider in the past 12 months, an estimated increase of 6% since 1998. Women and high income individuals were more likely to use a CAM provider than men and lower income individuals. Physical and mental distress was also related to the likelihood of CAM use. Individuals having negative or positive attitude toward physician services were more likely to use a CAM provider than those expressing a neutral attitude. Finally, repeated physician visits were related to an increased likelihood of CAM use.

CONCLUSIONS: Icelanders use CAM providers to a considerable degree, and CAM use has increased in recent years. It appears that some clients regard the care they receive in the general health system as insufficient. Most CAM users appear to use CAM treatments as a supplement to the care received in the general health system.

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