In the period 2010-2012, an average of nearly 1 million people reported to have consulted alternative healers in the past year, i.e. nearly 6 percent in the Dutch population. Acupuncture treatments are quite popular. Women, 30 to 65-year-olds, higher educated and people with supplementary insurance coverage most often consult alternative healers.
Acupuncture most popular alternative treatment
In 2010-2012, one quarter of people seeking alternative healing methods consulted acupuncturists. Homoeopaths were also consulted relatively often, by 22 percent of individuals seeking alternative treatments. Approximately 17 percent consulted chiropractors. Faith healers, anthroposophists and herbalists are the least consulted alternative healers.
Type of healer among people seeking alternative treatments, 2010/2012
Most people consulting alternative healers aged between 30 and 65
Among people seeking alternative treatments, 63 percent suffer from chronic disorders and more than half of them also consulted medical specialists. Women twice as often as men consulted alternative healers. Most people seeking alternative treatments are aged between 30 and 65. The highest age categories less frequently consulted alternative healers.
Share people treated by alternative healers, 2010/1012
Higher educated people more often seeking alternative treatments
People educated at higher vocational or university level more often opted for alternative healers than lower educated people. Few people with only primary education consulted alternative healers.
Share over-25s treated by alternative healers by level of education, 2010/1012
People with supplementary insurance coverage more often consult alternative healers
People with supplementary insurance coverage more often sought alternative medical treatment than those with only basic health insurance coverage; 7 versus 3 percent in the period 2010-2012. All types of supplementary insurance coverage are taken into account.
The survey does not reveal whether people take out supplementary insurance coverage, only because the costs of alternative healing methods are reimbursed.
GPs also occasionally practise alternative healing methods
Some GPs also practise alternative healing methods, e.g. acupuncture or prescribe homoeopathic remedies. In the period 2010-2012, 4 percent in the population said they knew their GP also used alternative methods and prescribed alternative medicines. More than half of patients said they did not know. If their GP practised alternative therapies, 13 percent indicated to have used one or more of these therapies over the past 12 months.
Very positive about alternative healers
In general, people who consult alternative healers are very positive about the results. On a scale from 1 to 10, alternative healer were rated with an average score of 8.1; GP practices and medical specialists scored 7.7 and 7.8 respectively.
Marieke Houben-van Herten