Investigating Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Seniors

Katrina M. Ward, Dr. Renee S. MacPhee


Objectives: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is used regularly by 70 % of Canadians, but when compared to younger users of CAM, seniors tend to use it less frequently. Using a phenomenological approach, this study sought to explore the attitudes and beliefs of seniors towards the use of CAM.
Methods: This qualitative study used either in–depth personal interviews or focus group interviews as the primary means of data collection. Participants in the study were individuals who had either used CAM in the past, or who were currently using CAM.
Results: Participants described that they would use conventional treatment for pathological disease, but would prefer to use CAM in certain circumstances as it was perceived to be a more natural approach. Exercise was also described as a form of CAM. Deterrents for CAM use include limited scientific evidence, cost, and the attitudes of others (e.g., physicians, the public).
Conclusion: Participants felt that they had positive experiences using CAM as an adjunct to conventional medicine, and felt that they had no personal barriers to accessing CAM. A major deterrent of CAM use was the limited scientific evidence, while minor factors included cost and the attitudes of others. Open discussion about CAM use should take place between physician and patients.

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Ward KM, MacPhee RS. Investigating Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Seniors. UBCMJ. 2015: 7.1 (21-24).