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01.12.2019 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies 1/2019

The impact of uncertainty in society on the use of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine: a comparative study on visits to alternative/traditional/folk health care practitioners

BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies > Ausgabe 1/2019
Jimpei Misawa, Rie Ichikawa, Akiko Shibuya, Yukihiro Maeda, Ichiro Arai, Teruyoshi Hishiki, Yoshiaki Kondo
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12906-019-2662-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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While traditional, complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM) is gaining increased interest worldwide, the structural factors associated with the usage of TCAM at the social level have not been sufficiently explored. We aim to understand the social structure of uncertainty in society that affects the TCAM usage for men and women.


We studied 32 countries using data from the International Social Survey Programme and the World Bank. In this study, we defined TCAM usage as visits to an alternative/traditional/folk health care practitioner during the past 12 months. We performed a correlation analysis and used a generalized linear model .


The prevalence of TCAM usage in terms of visits to practitioners was 26.1% globally, while usage varied across the 32 countries. Generalized linear models showed that unemployment rate was associated with the prevalence of TCAM usage in terms of visits to practitioners.


At the social-structural level TCAM usage involving visits to practitioners was related to job insecurity. Job insecurity led to a decrease in TCAM usage regarding visits to practitioners. These findings suggest that it is necessary to consider the social-structural factors of uncertainty in society when designing health policies related to TCAM.
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