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Vol. 13, No. 4, 2006
Issue release date: August 2006
Forsch Komplementärmed 2006;13:234-240

Complementary and Conventional Medicine in Switzerland: Comparing Characteristics of General Practitioners

Widmer M. · Herren S. · Dönges A. · Marian F. · Busato A.
aInstitute for Evaluative Research in Orthopaedic Surgery, bInstitute for Complementary Medicine KIKOM, University of Berne, Switzerland

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Objectives: Do structural characteristics of general practitioners (GPs) who practice complementary medicine (CAM) differ from those GPs who do not? Assessed characteristics included experience and professional integration of general practitioners (GPs), workload, medical activities, and personal and technical resources of practices. The investigated CAM disciplines were anthroposophic medicine, homoeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, neural therapy and herbal medicine. Material and Methods: We designed a cross-sectional study with convenience and stratified samples of GPs providing conventional (COM) and/or complementary primary care in Switzerland. The samples were taken from the database of the Swiss medical association (FMH) and from CAM societies. Data were collected using a postal questionnaire. Results: Of the 650 practitioners who were included in the study, 191 were COM, 167 noncertified CAM and 292 certified CAM physicians. The proportion of females was higher in the population of CAM physicians. Gender-adjusted age did not differ between CAM and COM physicians. Nearly twice as many CAM physicians work part-time. Differences were also seen for the majority of structural characteristics such as qualification of physicians, type of practice, type of staff, and presence of technical equipment. Conclusion: The study results show that structural characteristics of primary health care do differ between CAM and COM practitioners. We assumed that the activities of GPs are defined essentially by analyzed structures. The results are to be considered for evaluations in primary health care, particularly when quality of health care is assessed.

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