Use of unconventional therapies by primary care patients - Religious resources vs. complementary or alternative medicine services

Tzipi Hornik-Lurie, Julie Cwikel, Marjorie C. Feinson, Yaacov Lerner, Nelly Zilber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives: The study examines the difference in characteristics between primary care patients who turn to "religious resources for medical purposes" (RRMP) and those who turn to "complementary or alternative medicine" (CAM) services to cope with a physical or mental health problem. Design and setting: Data were collected from eight primary care clinics in Israel and included 905 Jewish patients aged 25-75. Main outcome measure: A self-report questionnaire with a battery of validated mental health assessment instruments and two questionnaires regarding use of unconventional therapies (RRMP and CAM services) were administered to the participants. The association of various variables with type of 'service use' was examined through logistic regression analysis. Results: Primary care patients suffering from emotional problems have a propensity to utilize unconventional therapies in addition to conventional medical treatment. However, differences exist between patients who turn to RRMP and to CAM. The risk factors for turning to RRMP are North African, Middle Eastern or Israeli origin, low SES, religious observance, and high use of primary care clinics. For using CAM services the risk factor is high SES. Conclusions: In the present study, a quarter of primary care patients also use additional resources for their medical problems. While all segments of the population use unconventional resources, our study reveals that two types of unconventional therapies - RRMP and CAM - tend to be used by two different population sectors. It is noteworthy that those suffering from mental health problems are more likely to utilize unconventional resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-524
Number of pages8
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from The National Institute for Health Policy and Health Services Research (# 83656101 ).


  • Complementary or alternative medicine
  • Primary care patients
  • Religious resources for medical purposes


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