Use of complementary therapies in pregnancy: The perceptions of obstetricians and midwives in South Australia

Authors

  • Lauren Gaffney,

    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
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  • Caroline A. Smith

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
      Associate Professor Caroline Smith, Complementary and Alternative Therapies, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, City East Campus, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia. Email: caroline.smith@unisa.edu.au
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Associate Professor Caroline Smith, Complementary and Alternative Therapies, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, City East Campus, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia. Email: caroline.smith@unisa.edu.au

Abstract

Objective  To examine South Australian obstetricians and midwives attitude's towards the use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) during pregnancy, to examine their referral patterns and their views on the usefulness and safety of these therapies during pregnancy.

Design  All members of the South Australian branch of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and a 50% sample of midwives belonging to the South Australian Branch of The Australian College of Midwives, were sent a postal self-completion questionnaire.

Results  A response rate of 78% was obtained. Only 14% of doctors considered CAM was a threat to public health. Over 90% of midwives and obstetricians thought they should have some knowledge about CAM. A greater proportion of obstetricians (72%) held a view there needs to be an evidence base for CAM compared with 26% of midwives. The majority of obstetricians (68%) and midwives (78%) had formally referred a patient for use of one of the complementary therapies. Over 70% of obstetricians and midwives considered massage, acupuncture, vitamins, yoga, meditation and hypnosis to be useful and safe to use during pregnancy.

Conclusion  The majority of clinician's held positive views towards CAM and considered some complementary therapies to be useful and safe for use during pregnancy. Limited evidence exists on the safety and efficacy of these therapies and attention needs to be given to undertaking high quality randomised controlled trials.

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