Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) among adults in Italy: Use and related satisfaction

P. Barbadoro, C. Chiatti, M. M. D'Errico, A. Minelli, L. Pennacchietti, E. Ponzio, E. Prospero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is attracting attention within the context of health care provision in western countries. Patterns of CAM use and related satisfaction were analysed in Italy according to socio-demographic and health variables. Materials and methods: 104,544 individuals (aged. >18) were interviewed by the cross-sectional ISTAT survey on " Health status of the population and use of health services" (2004-2005). CAM use and related satisfaction were evaluated by bivariate analysis and logistic regression models. Results: 14.4% (n=14,963) of sample used at least one CAM typology in the three years before the interview; manual treatments were the most widespread (7.6%), followed by homeopathy (7.0%), herbal medicine (4.1%), and acupuncture (2.1%). Factors associated with CAM use included gender, age, educational level, social class and area of residence: use was more frequent among women, middle-aged, highly educated and upper-middle class persons, living in Northern Italy. People with chronic diseases used CAM more frequently. Most CAM users reported complete satisfaction (60.6% acupuncture; 69.2% herbal medicine; 70.8% homeopathy; 77.8% manual treatments), with high satisfaction also among subjects with chronic conditions. A higher education level predicted satisfaction more than social class while refusing to combine conventional medicine and CAM was the strongest determinants of complete satisfaction. Conclusion: One out of seven adult Italians had used CAM the last three years. Users are mainly highly educated persons, belonging to the upper social class, and people affected by chronic conditions. Levels of self-rated satisfaction are generally high, both in the absence and in the presence of chronic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Integrative Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Acupuncture
  • Health services
  • Herbal medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Italian national institute of statistics (ISTAT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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