Healthcare workers are more likely to use alternative therapies than the general public.
Three in four healthcare workers uses at least one form of alternative therapy compared to two in three people in the general population.
The healthcare workers say they turn to alternative medicine to maintain a sense of well-being and to control anxiety.
The types of therapy range from acupuncture, naturopathy and biofeedback to tai chi, yoga, Alexander technique, Reiki and vitamins.
Apart from general well-being they also used alternatives for back, neck and joint pain. Anxiety, however, was the most commonly reported reason for using self-administered complementary or alternative medicine.
The study was carried out by Dr Pamela Jo Johnson from Allina Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis and colleagues in Health Service Research.
The results were in line with previous reports showing that use of these treatments by healthcare professionals ranges from 24% by physicians to 100% among nurses.
The study revealed that doctors and nurses were twice as likely as non-clinical health-care support workers to have practiced alternative medicine services in the past year.
“The possibility of such institutionalized changes of CAM’s role in healthcare … strongly suggests the need for further research to understand the reasons for healthcare workers’ CAM use as well as the possible benefits and risks of such use,” the authors concluded.