Use of complementary therapies by registered psychologists: a comparison of Australian, UK and American professionals



The purpose of this study is to investigate the prevalence and utilization pattern of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) amongst Australian, British and American registered psychologists. It is of particular interest to see whether Psychologists are also professionally trained in a CAM speciality. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a category of diverse medical and healthcare systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered as part of conventional medicine and has been defined by the Cochrane Collaboration as “a broad domain of healing resources that encompasses all health systems, modalities, and practices and their accompanying theories and beliefs other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health systems of a particular society or culture in a given historical period”.

CAM is becoming increasingly prevalent because it is used not only for disease treatment, but also for disease prevention and health promotion. In 2007, American adults made 354 million visits to CAM practitioners and it has become a $42 billion dollar industry. The use of CAM amongst the general population in Australia is widespread (∼70%) and, as such, has the potential to impact on health-care decisions.

Few studies have compared Australian use of CAM by professionals against other countries, and even less have examined psychologists in particular. Most recently a 2013 study of Queensland psychologists’ (N=122) intentions to integrate complementary and alternative therapies (CAT) into their practice via recommending CAT to clients or referring clients to CAT practitioners indicated through the Theory of Planned Behaviour that 69% (recommending CAT) and 51% (referring to CAT practitioners) was accounted for in the variance in intentions. However, the focus of psychology has been grounded historically in the scientific/medical model, and it would not be surprising if psychologists were hesitant to embrace alternative therapies that have relatively little empirical evidence to support their use.

A descriptive, exploratory online survey of Australian, United Kingdom and American registered psychologists will be conducted with the view to comparing the three countries use of CAM. As well as comparing the three groups regarding their current use of CAM, skill level in delivering and attitudes towards using CAM, the study will seek to see whether country, age, education level or gender accounts for more variance in attitude and use. Previous research has demonstrated that younger people hold more positive attitudes towards CAT and perceive CAT as less risky (MacLennan et al., 2006).

Data in SPSS software.
Date made available2013
PublisherBond University
Date of data production2013

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