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Interest in and Willingness to Use Complementary, Alternative and Traditional Medicine among Academic and Administrative University Staff in Bloemfontein, South Africa

AM van Staden
G Joubert


Background: Healthcare systems worldwide are changing and the use of complementary, alternative and traditional medicine (CAM) form part of
this transformation. South Africa has a large number of CAM practitioners, but they are not included in the official healthcare system. The aim of this
study was to determine the perception and usage of CAM among the academic and administrative staff of the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Methods: A questionnaire was compiled and sent electronically to all the academic and administrative staff of the UFS who had a university email
address, to be completed online.
Results: The response rate was 5.5%, with most of the respondents from the Faculty of Health Sciences. The respondents (n=165) were mainly women of 41–60 years of age with more than one tertiary qualification. Most of the respondents were in good health and considered CAM as moderately helpful and mostly safe. Most of the CAM recommendations were not from a medical physician. The respondents wanted alternatives to certain medications, such as antibiotics. They also had good previous experience with CAM and felt that conventional treatment was not always effective to treat their problems. They identified a need for CAM in the health system.
Conclusion: The study has limitations due to the data collection method and the low response rate. The results showed that the respondents favored a more integrated healthcare system including different CAM therapies, and that conventional doctors should be better informed about these therapies and its uses.

Keywords: perceptions; usage; complementary medicine; alternative medicine; traditional medicine; university staff.

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eISSN: 0189-6016