• alternative medicine;
  • complementary medicine;
  • health;
  • rural


In this study a postal questionnaire was used to investigate the use of complementary therapies (CT) in a rural region of New South Wales (NSW). A total of 70.3% of respondents reported using one or more therapies with 62.7% having visited a complementary practitioner. Vitamin/mineral therapy (68.7%), chiropractic (26.1%) and massage therapy (25.1%) were the most frequently used therapies, with the most commonly visited practitioners being chiropractors (55.3%) and those trained in vitamin/mineral therapy (47.9%). Of the vitamins, vitamin C and multivitamins were used most often, with garlic and Echinacea being the most used herbal products. The main source of information were friends (64.5%) with most people indicating that CT could improve quality of life and provide relief of symptoms. Results suggest that CT use in rural communities is high and that, in light of these findings, there is a need for training in CT to be included in the undergraduate and continuing education of health professionals. Furthermore, these professionals should be alert to the potential for increased numbers of herb–drug interactions in rural communities.