A comparison of high frequency and low frequency visitors to practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine (cam)
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Aim: To investigate whether individuals with a high frequency of CAM visits differ from those with a low frequency of CAM visits in relation to socio-demographic characteristics, lifestyle, health, health-care utilisation, motivation for use and experienced CAM efficacy. Method: The study used data from a cross sectional total population study in Central Norway, the third Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT3) conducted in the period 2006- 2008. A total of 4366 individuals who had visited a CAM practitioner the last 12 months were included. In addition, a sub-analysis of 1985 individuals who had visited a practitioner of acupuncture the last 12 months was performed. Variables included demographics, lifestyle, health status, health care utilisation, motives for CAM use and experienced CAM efficacy. Pearson chi-square tests were performed to compare high frequency CAM visitors with low frequency CAM visitors. Multivariable logistic regression was used to calculate adjusted odds ratio. Results: The variables which significantly increased the odds of being a high frequency CAM visitor (p < 0.01) were being aged between 56 and 75 (Adj OR, 1.4) or over 75 (Adj OR, 2.0) compared to those under 36, being currently working (Adj OR, 1.32), having reduced global health (Adj OR for “fair” global health, 1.50), having visited a chiropractor (Adj OR, 1.42), acupuncturist (Adj OR, 2.79), reflexologist (Adj OR, 2.36) or “other CAM modality” (Adj OR, 1.87) the last 12 months. The variables which decreased the odds of being a high frequency CAM visitor were being male (Adj OR, 0.81) or having experienced a positive effect from the use of at least one CAM modality (Adj OR, 0.53). In the subanalysis, reduced global health increased the odds of being a high frequency CAM visitor (Adj OR for “fair” global health, 1.83), while having experienced a positive effect from the use of at least one CAM modality decreased the odds of being a high frequency CAM visitor (Adj OR, 0.47). Conclusion: High frequency CAM visitors were more likely to be middle-aged to old females who were currently working and had reduced global health. Having experienced a positive effect from use of CAM decreased the odds of being a high frequency CAM visitor. Choice of CAM modality seems to have an impact on frequency of visits, and future research could enhance understanding on this point.