Complementary health care services: a survey of general practitioners' views.
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OBJECTIVE: To determine the referral practices, perceived usefulness, knowledge, prior training and desire for training of general practitioners (GPs) in Quebec with regard to complementary health care services such as acupuncture, chiropractic and hypnosis. DESIGN: Cross-sectional mail survey. SETTING: Province of Quebec. PARTICIPANTS: Random sample of 200 GPs. Of the 146 who responded, 25 were excluded because they were no longer in practice; this left 121 (83%). OUTCOME MEASURES: Self-reported referral practices for complementary health care services, perceived usefulness and self-assessed knowledge of such services, and prior training and desire for training in these services. RESULTS: Sixty percent (72/121) of the GPs knew at least one practitioner of a complementary health care service for referral; 59% (70/119) reported referring patients to physicians who practise such services and 68% (80/118) to nonmedical practitioners. At least one of the three services studied were regarded as having some use by 83% (101/121). Overall, self-reported knowledge was poor: the proportions of GPs who reported knowing a lot about acupuncture, chiropractic and hypnosis were 11% (13/121), 10% (12/121) and 8% (10/121) respectively. Prior training was also lacking: only 8% (9/118) of the GPs had received previous training in acupuncture, 2% (2/111) in chiropractic and 3% (3/103) in hypnosis. In all, 48% (57/118) indicated that they would like further training in at least one of the services studied, and 13% (16/121) indicated that they currently provided one service. CONCLUSIONS: Referral of patients by GPs to practitioners of complementary health care services is common in Quebec. Although self-assessed knowledge about such services is relatively poor, interest in learning more about them is high. These findings identify a demand for future educational initiatives.
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