Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 - Roy Morgan Research

Over 1.8 million Australians pay for alternative health services in an average four weeks—but over half of them also see a doctor, research from Roy Morgan shows.  

Whether it’s acupuncture or cupping, reiki or shiatsu, hypnotherapy or aromatherapy, iridology, reflexology or kinesiology, almost 1 in 10 Australians 14+ (9.4%) paid for some type of alternative health service in the last four weeks, Roy Morgan Single Source data for the year to June 2015 shows.

Government health departments and medical research organisations often now prefer to describe many of these services as ‘complementary’ rather than ‘alternative’—an optional add-on to conventional medical treatment, not a replacement. And it seems Australians are inclined to agree.

Of the 1,825,000 Australians 14+ who paid for alternative health services in the last four weeks, 969,000 (53%) also paid for a doctor’s visit during the same period. The overlap is especially prominent among men: of the 655,000 who paid for alternative health services in the last four weeks (7% of all men), 388,000 also paid for a doctor’s visit (59%).

Women are more likely than men to pay for alternative health services in an average four weeks—however there is less overlap with doctor’s visits: of the 1,170,000 women (12%) who paid for alternative health services, just under half (581,000) also paid for a doctor’s visit.

Of course, the converse is the proportion of doctors’ visitors who also consume alternative health services: 5,126,000 Australians (26%) pay for a doctor in an average four weeks—just under 1 in 5 of whom (the 969,000) also paid for alternative health services.

Number of people who paid for doctor and/or alternative health services in last four weeks:

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia) July 2014 – June 2015, n = 51,371 Australians 14+

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“There is a clear correlation between going to the doctor and an alternative health practitioner, with someone who visits one around twice as likely to visit the other in the same period.   

“The only way to know for sure this kind of combined, exclusive and total consumption is through Single Source methodology, where the same person is asked two or more—or, in our case, thousands—of questions.

“This core research principle is the same whether it’s to find out how many doctor’s visitors also pay for alternative health services, how many Coles shoppers also shop at Woolworths, how many viewers of a TV show also listen to breakfast radio and read a particular magazine, or who uses Facebook across their mobile phone and tablet and computer.

“Of course, this means we know how many and which types of people pay for alternative health services, shop at Coles, watch a TV show and use Facebook across multiple platforms.”

Contact Profile

Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is Australia’s best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
Shaun Ellis
P: 03 9224 5332
W: www.roymorgan.com


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