Background: Alternative medicine use is increasing worldwide and the associated expenditures are significant. In Israel 19% of patients who consulted their family physician had also sought treatment by an alternative medicine practitioner. Objectives: To explore the correlation between different modalities of healthcare utilization, health behavior, and health belief among adult members of a kibbutz (rural communal settlement). This unique study population enabled the use of a simplified quantitative model due to the minimal individual differences in cost and access. Methods: Healthcare utilization data were obtained for 220 kibbutz members aged 15-70 years from patient medical files and self-administered questionnaires over a 45 month period. Patient visits to the family practitioner and other specialist physicians were tallied, and individuals reported alternative medicine consultations during the previous year. Multiple regression analysis was used to control for age, chronic disease, and other background characteristics. Results: The mean number of patient FP visits was 3.6 per patient per year. Women and chronic disease sufferers visited the doctor more frequently. A patient's number of FP visits and other specialist physician visits were closely correlated, with each specialist physician consult resulting in an additional 0.64 FP visit for a given individual (P = 0.007). Our analysis indicated that self-reported alternative therapy utilization was positively associated with the number of FP visits; patients reporting alternative therapy use visited their primary care physician once additionally per year (P = 0.03). Low self-rated health status was correlated with increased likelihood of alternative therapy use (borderline significance) Conclusion: These results suggest that a patient who seeks treatment from one type of healthcare practitioner will seek out other practitioners as well. This study supports the notion that unconventional therapies are used in conjunction with, rather than instead of, mainstream medical care.
|Number of pages
|Israel Medical Association Journal
|Published - 2001
- Alternative medicine
- Family practitioner