The complementary and alternative health care system in Australia

CHAPTER 14 The complementary and alternative health care system in Australia

When you finish this chapter you should be able to:

The Complementary and Alternative Medicine system

In Australia, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is a wide range of popular but diverse health care practices which exist parallel with, but are not regarded as part of, the mainstream biomedical system (McCabe 2005). Even this definition is rather wanting because it is defines what they are not, rather than what they are (Coulter & Willis 2004). Yet a succinct definition covering all of CAM remains elusive as the great range of different health practices vary greatly in their philosophy and therapeutic approach (British Medical Association 1993).

Although many differences exist in the approach to treatment, the modalities that comprise CAM do share some common features:

Each of the modalities or areas of health practice that comprise CAM in Australia have operated quite separately from the mainstream and have existed and prospered in a system of self regulation.

Education and regulation

Towards the close of the 20th century many CAM practitioner associations chose to develop education and training programs within the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector. The participation in the development of a Health Training Package (HTP) (Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training 2007a) ensured government endorsement and three nationally recognised components for CAM:

Government-endorsed qualifications now exist for a variety of CAM and range from Certificate IV to Advanced Diploma and include the following modalities:

This chapter is confined to those CAMs which are primary contact practices: practices which accept patients directly without referral from another practitioner. These CAMs require a minimum entry level of education for practice of either an Advanced Diploma or a higher education qualification from a university. Below is a brief description taken from a range of sources of primary contact practices.

History of CAM in Australia

Many of the more established CAM practices have existed in Australia, in some form, since European settlement. TCM arrived with the early Chinese immigrants and homoeopathy with early European migration. These practices were often carried out by lay practitioners or by medical doctors who were also homoeopaths. Homoeopathic hospitals were established in Melbourne in 1882 and Sydney in 1901 (Homoeopathic Industry Reference Group 1999).

The introduction of antibiotics and the rapid expansion of pharmaceutical treatments and greatly improved public health programs are widely credited with contributing to the decline of CAM, especially after World War Two (Gray 2005). Since European settlement, CAM practitioners have often been marginalised by the dominant mainstream medical system, but despite this many practices have survived and even prospered due in large part to the dedication and commitment of its practitioners and the demand of its followers.

Those who seek CAM

Since the 1960s there has been a considerable resurgence in the popularity of CAM. This revival has taken place among the wealthier, more prosperous, well-educated sections of economically developed societies (Gray 2005). The increasing use of CAM by Australians mirrors the pattern of use in other Western, industrialised countries.

In a 2004 South Australian study, CAM was used by 52.2% of the study population, across a range of ages, with the highest use in well-educated, reasonably affluent women between the ages of 25–34 years, with the majority using CAM for maintenance of general health (MacLennan, Myers & Taylor 2006). In similar previous research 57% of CAM users revealed that they did not tell their doctor they were receiving CAM (MacLennan, Wilson & Taylor 2002).

One group of patients who use CAM are those diagnosed with cancer. Individuals seek CAM treatments to not only treat the disease but also to treat the side effects of some conventional treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but people also tend to seek out CAM when mainstream medicine has no treatments left to offer. This is a difficult situation for both patient and practitioner as the disease is usually very advanced and the patient is also struggling with the debilitating side effects of the medical treatment they have received. An Australian study which researched the use of CAM in children with cancer found that 46% had used various treatments as a complement to conventional treatment and less than half of their parents had told their doctors (Sawyer et al 1994). A study on the supportive care needs of men with prostate cancer found that younger, better-educated men were more likely to combine the use of CAM with their mainstream treatment (Steginga et al 2001).

Mar 24, 2017 | Posted by in MEDICAL ASSISSTANT | Comments Off on The complementary and alternative health care system in Australia
Premium Wordpress Themes by UFO Themes