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The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicines Among a Sample of Canadian Menopausal-Aged Women


  • Carole A. Lunny MHS,

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    • Carole A. Lunny, MHS, is an independent consultant and has worked for the United Nations Development Programme and the International Centre for Infectious Diseases. This project was completed while Ms. Lunny was a graduate student at Athabasca University.

  • Shawn N. Fraser PhD

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    • Shawn N. Fraser, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Master of Health Studies Program, Centre for Nursing and Health, at Athabasca University.

Centre for Nursing and Health Studies, Athabasca University, 1 University Drive, Athabasca, Alberta T9S 3A3, Canada. E-mail:


Introduction: Despite questionable efficacy and safety, many women use a variety of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies to relieve menopause symptoms.

Methods: We examined the determinants and use of CAM therapies among a sample of menopausal-aged women in Canada by using a cross-sectional Web-based survey.

Results: Four hundred twenty-three women who were contacted through list serves, e-mail lists, and Internet advertisements provided complete data on demographics, use of CAM, therapies, and menopausal status and symptoms. Ninety-one percent of women reported trying CAM therapies for their symptoms. Women reported using an average of five kinds of CAM therapies. The most common treatments were vitamins (61.5%), relaxation techniques (57.0%), yoga/meditation (37.6%), soy products (37.4%), and prayer (35.7%). The most beneficial CAM therapies reported were prayer/spiritual healing, relaxation techniques, counseling/therapy, and therapeutic touch/Reiki. Demographic factors and menopausal symptoms contributed to 14% of the variance (P < .001) in the number of CAM therapies tried.

Discussion: Results support previous research showing that menopausal women have high user rates of CAM therapy and show that specific demographic factors and somatic symptomatology relate to use of CAM therapies. Health care providers can benefit from understanding the determinants and use of CAM by women during the menopause transition if they are to help and provide quality care for this population.