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Complementary medicine and the general practitioner

Abstract

The attitudes to complementary medicine of a random sample of general practitioners in Avon were assessed. A questionnaire was sent to 200 general practitioners, of whom 145 responded. The treatments studied were acupuncture, homoeopathy, herbal medicine, spinal manipulation, faith healing; and hypnosis. Of the 145 general practitioners, 55 (38%) had received some training in complementary medicine and 22 (15%) wished to arrange training. Overall, general practitioners knew little about the techniques of complementary medicine. Despite this 86 doctors (59%) thought that the complementary techniques being assessed were useful to their patients: 110 (76%) had referred patients for this type of treatment over the past year to medically qualified colleagues and 104 (72%) had referred patients to non-medically qualified practitioners. Most (93%) of those who responded believed that complementary practitioners needed statutory regulation; only 3% thought that they should be banned. The method of regulation most favoured was through a central and independent national body. General practitioners’ views about complementary techniques were most influenced (in a positive manner) by observed benefits to their patients (41%) and personal or family experience of benefit (38%).

The results of the study show a surprisingly high interest in complementary medicine among general practitioners in the Avon area.

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