Canadians Want Alternative Medicine as Part of Health Care System

Three-in-four Canadians believe the federal government should not approve homeopathic claims unless they are supported by scientific evidence.

Vancouver, BC – Most Canadians have tried alternative medicine, and a majority would like to see the health care system funding these remedies for people who want to try them, a new Canada-wide Insights West poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, three-in-five Canadians say they consider acupuncture (63%) and chiropractic manipulation (60%) as legitimate medicine. Fewer Canadians hold positive views on the legitimacy of other remedies, including herbalism (50%), homeopathy (46%), Cold-FX (28%), Reiki (21%) and faith healing (19%).

When it comes to traditional Chinese medicine, 52% of Canadians consider it legitimate, but the proportion rises to 77% among respondents of East Asian descent. A similar situation ensues with Ayurvedic medicine, which is deemed legitimate by 18% of Canadians and 61% of respondents of South Asian lineage.

Among all of these remedies, the one Canadians have tried the most is chiropractic manipulation (36%), followed by acupuncture (30%), Cold-FX (28%), homeopathy (22%) and herbalism (21%). More than a quarter of Canadians (27%) have never tried any of these alternative remedies.

A majority of Canadians who have tried these alternative remedies say they were “very effective” or “somewhat effective”, with Ayurvedic medicine (90%), traditional Chinese medicine (85%), chiropractic manipulation (79%) and herbalism (77%) holding the highest level of satisfaction, followed by faith healing (71%), homeopathy (60%), acupuncture (59%), Cold-FX (57%) and Reiki (55%).

Three-in-five Canadians (61%) believe the country’s health care system should fund alternative remedies for patients who want to rely on them. Support for this idea is highest among women (66%), Canadians aged 35-to-54 (68%) and Albertans (69%).

In spite of the high level of support for a different way to access alternative medicine, three-in-four Canadians (73%) believe the federal government should not approve homeopathic claims unless they are supported by scientific evidence, and 59% agree with the decision to require manufacturers of homeopathic cough, cold, and flu remedies to remove any labelling that suggests it is recommended for treating children 12 years old or younger.

“The results point to a Canadian public that remains skeptical of claims and satisfied with the steps taken by the government to protect consumers,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “Still, the large proportion of Canadians who would like to see some assistance from the health care system to seek alternative remedies cannot be ignored, especially among those with cultural ties to these remedies.”

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from March 7 to March 10, 2016, among a representative sample of 1,049 Canadian adults. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.0 percentage points. Click here to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Mario Canseco
Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West

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