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Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Canada: Trends in Use and Public Attitudes, 1997-2006

Type: Research Studies
Date Published: May 22, 2007
Research Topics:
In 1999, The Fraser Institute published the first ever comprehensive study of Canadians' use of and public attitudes towards complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) (Ramsay et al, 1999). The term "complementary and alternative medicines" is usually used to describe medical therapies, practices, and products that are not typically seen as a part of conventional medicine, or that are not taught widely in medical schools or commonly available in North American hospitals. Broadly, the 1999 study found that the majority of Canadians had used at least one complementary or alternative therapy in their lifetime (73%). The study also discovered that the majority of Canadians (58%) felt that CAM should be covered privately and not be included in provincial health plans.

In the years since that survey, the health care world has changed significantly. In addition to improvements in conventional medicine's ability to deal with and treat pain and disease there has also been a growth in the public's knowledge about what health care can do, partly fuelled by improved access to vast quantities of information via the Internet. These changes led to the question of whether or not, and to what degree Canadians' use of and public attitudes towards CAM, had changed since 1997. To answer this question, Ipsos Reid was once ageing commissioned to re-examine the issue in a follow-up survey in 2006.
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