ÓThe Author (2005). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: [email protected]doi:10.1093/fampra/cmi078Family Practice Advance Access published on 22 August 2005Health status and health care utilisation of patientsin complementary and conventional primary carein Switzerland—an observational studyAndre´ Busato, Andreas Do¨ nges, Sylvia Herren, Marcel Widmerand Florica MarianBusato A, Do¨ nges A, Herren S, Widmer M and Marian F. Health status and health care utilisationof patients in complementary and conventional primary care in Switzerland—an observationalstudy.Family Practice2006;23: 116–124.Background.The study is part of a nationwide evaluation of complementary and alternativemedicine (CAM) in primary care in Switzerland.Objectives.Patient health status with respect to demographic attributes such as gender, age,and health care utilisation pattern was studied and compared with conventional primary care.Methods.The study was performed as a cross-sectional survey including 11 932 adult patientsseeking complementary or conventional primary care. Patients were asked to document theirself-perceived health status by completing a questionnaire in the waiting room. Physicians wereperforming conventional medicine and/or various forms of complementary primary care suchas homeopathy, anthroposophic medicine, neural therapy, herbal medicine, or traditionalChinese medicine. Additional information on patient demographics and yearly consultationrates for participating physicians was obtained from the data pool of all Swiss health insurers.These data were used to confirm the survey results.Results.We observed considerable and significant differences in demographic attributes ofpatients seeking complementary and conventional care. Patients seeking complementary caredocumented longer lasting and more severe main health problems than patients in con-ventional care. The number of previous physician visits differed between patient groups, whichindicates higher consumption of medical resources by CAM patients.Conclusions.The study supports the hypothesis of differences in socio-demographic andbehavioural attributes of patients seeking conventional medicine or CAM in primary care. Thestudy provides empirical evidence that CAM users are requiring more physician-based medicalservices in primary care than users of conventional medicine.Keywords.Complementaryandalternativemedicine,healthresources,primarycare,technology assessment.IntroductionTheregulationofhealthinsurancecoverageforcomplementary and alternative medicine (CAM) variesconsiderably across various national health plans.1–3Increased use of CAM and consistent lobbying fromCAM practitioners and health consumer groups hasresulted in higher pressure on policy makers to includeCAM in basic health coverage in various countries.