Alternative medicine and general practitioners in The Netherlands: towards acceptance and integration

Family Practice
G J Visser, L Peters

Abstract

A questionnaire on alternative medicine was sent to 600 general practitioners in the Netherlands. Most of the 360 (60%) GPs who replied expressed on interest in alternative practice; and 47% revealed that they used one or more alternative methods themselves, most often homoeopathy. However, the number of patients given alternative treatment by each doctor was small. Almost all (90%) of the GPs referred patients to alternative practitioners. There is no reason to assume that GPs make use of alternative methods just to meet their patients' wishes. A majority of the respondents thought that these therapies included ideas and methods from which the regular methods might benefit. Actual contacts with alternative practitioners are mostly limited to those practicing acupuncture, homeopathy and manipulative medicine with a regular medical or paramedical education. The integration of alternative medicine within the medical system goes hand in hand with its acceptance by general practitioners. Contact with medically or paramedically qualified practitioners has hardly any legal implications for individual general practitioners.

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