CAM use among mid-age women: a national mixed-methods study across the urban-rural divide
Researchers: Dr Alex Broom (with Jon Adams CIA, Anne Young, David Sibbritt, Marie Pirotta, Marc Cohen and John Humphreys)
National Health and Medical Research Council, 2008-2011; $450 771
The aim of this project is to understand and explain why higher proportions of mid-age women in regional areas use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) than those in urban areas of Australia. Such work will provide an evidence-base for policy and practice on this topic and the project findings will help develop CAM initiatives and programs for women's health that are sensitive to geographical variations in community health, health practice and provision. Women are significantly more likely to utilise CAM treatments than males and mid-age women have been found to be the highest CAM user group amongst Australian women. Researchers and practitioners have identified treatments from within CAM as potentially well-suited to dealing with a range of health problems and associated symptoms prevalent amongst mid-age women including the onset of cancer, arthritis, diabetes and asthma as well as menopause. Our previous pilot work found that mid-age women in regional areas are significantly more likely to use CAM than those in urban areas. A number of explanations as to why this is so can be or have been proposed. These include: limited access to conventional health care services in regional areas; closer working ties between non-urban general practitioners and CAM provision; dissatisfaction with conventional health care services in regional areas and stronger informal community networks in non-urban areas. Our proposed project, drawing upon a national representative sample of mid-age women will test such hypotheses and will provide findings of benefit and interest to policy makers, practitioners, consumers and all involved in women’s health and health care across urban and regional Australia.