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Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Rural Communities: Current Research and Future Directions

Wardle, Jon, Lui, Chi‐Wai, Adams, Jon
Journal of rural health 2012 v.28 no.1 pp. 101-112
alternative medicine, health beliefs, rural areas, rural communities, rural health care
Contexts: The consumption of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in rural areas is a significant contemporary health care issue. An understanding of CAM use in rural health can provide a new perspective on health beliefs and practice as well as on some of the core service delivery issues facing rural health care generally. Purpose: This article presents the first review and synthesis of research findings on CAM use and practice in rural communities. Methods: A comprehensive search of literature from 1998 to 2010 in CINAHL, MEDLINE, AMED, and CSA Illumina (social sciences) was conducted. The search was confined to peer‐reviewed articles published in English reporting empirical research findings on the use or practice of CAM in rural settings. Findings: Research findings are grouped and examined according to 3 key themes: “prevalence of CAM use and practice,”“user profile and trends of CAM consumption,” and “potential drivers and barriers to CAM use and practice.” Conclusions: Evidence from recent research illustrates the substantial prevalence and complexity of CAM use in rural regions. A number of potential gaps in our understanding of CAM use and practice in rural settings are also identified.