OBJECTIVE: To document the frequency of conversations about alternative medicine during primary care consultations for back pain in diverse settings. DESIGN: "Exit interview" type patient survey. SETTINGS: General practices in Seattle, Washington; rural Israel; and Birmingham, England. PATIENTS: A convenience sample of 218 adults completing a doctor visit for back pain. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Frequencies of doctor-patient discussions of alternative medicine. RESULTS: Alternative medicine was discussed in a minority of visits (US site 40%, Israel site 37%, UK site 14%, p < 0.05). At each site, patients initiated at least half of the discussions. Users were five to six times more likely to discuss alternative medicine with their doctor than non-users (p < 0.05 for comparison at each site). The percentage of patients who used alternative medicine but left the consultation without discussing it was similar at all sites (US site 17%, Israel site 23%, UK site 15%). CONCLUSIONS: Discussions of alternative medicine occurred in a minority of consultations for back pain although the rate varied considerably by site. Discussions were initiated primarily by patients who use it.


Journal article


Scand J Prim Health Care

Publication Date





237 - 240


Back Pain, Complementary Therapies, Health Services Research, Humans, Israel, Physician-Patient Relations, Rural Population, Surveys and Questionnaires, United Kingdom, United States, Urban Population