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.