People with multiple sclerosis in South East Queensland: A study of the use and cost of mainstream medicine and complementary therapies

Cameron, Kaye D. (1999). People with multiple sclerosis in South East Queensland: A study of the use and cost of mainstream medicine and complementary therapies Master's Thesis, , The University of Queensland.

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Author Cameron, Kaye D.
Thesis Title People with multiple sclerosis in South East Queensland: A study of the use and cost of mainstream medicine and complementary therapies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1999
Thesis type Master's Thesis
Total pages 95
Language eng
Subjects 11 Medical and Health Sciences
Formatted abstract Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a common, incurable, demyelinating disorder of humans which predominately affects 20-40 year olds, the majority being women. MS affects over 10,000 Australians, with a prevalence of 18/100,000 in Queensland (Hammond 1987; McLeod 1994). The demand for health services by people with MS varies with individuals and the levels of the disability experienced. The present study of 40 people with MS looks at mainstream medicine and complementary therapies accessed by people with MS and the cost of these therapies. The unmet needs and concerns of people with MS were also documented.

Results of this study show that a high percentage of the study subjects (82.5%) were users of complementary therapy as an adjunct to mainstream medicine. All study participants were users of mainstream medicine. The use of physiotherapy and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Queensland (MSSQ) was increased as disability worsened, with unemployed persons more likely to use community health facilities than employed persons.

There was a higher use of complementary therapies by females compared with males (93% vs 54%); and by patients with the relapsing-remitting type of MS (94%) compared with secondary progressive MS (75%) or those with primary progressive MS (70%). More tertiary educated people used complementary therapies than those with no tertiary qualifications (100% vs 79%).

The cost of using complementary therapies for people with MS ranged from $5 to $725 per month ($100 median). Most people spent less than $20 on any one therapy. These findings are consistent with other studies that show the use and cost of complementary therapies in chronic incurable diseases is substantial.

Study participants were given opportunity to express issues of concern and/or unmet needs. Twenty nine of the 40 subjects (72.5%) raised issues primarily relating to problems of transportation, lack of knowledge about MS by some health professionals and difficulty in accessing services for MS sufferers and their carers. The remainder expressed no concerns or unmet needs.

In conclusion, the results of this study show that people with MS are heavy users of complementary therapies. Mainstream medical providers need to be aware of this high use of complementary therapies by people with MS and discuss the potential harm in the consumption and use of unproven treatments with the patients.
Keyword Multiple sclerosis -- Alternative treatment
Multiple sclerosis -- Physical therapy
Multiple sclerosis -- Patients -- Queensland
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