Complementary and alternative medicine use in Portugal: development of an assessment tool

Cláudia Carvalho, Sara Cunha Lopes, Maria João Gouveia


Objective: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) usage is increasing in developing countries. However, little is known about its use in Portugal. This report describes the prevalence of CAM use in a sample of Portuguese adults from Lisbon area. Method: One hundred and seventy four individuals (62% females and 37% males) with ages ranging from 20 to 80 years were inquired with a questionnaire designed to assess the use of a variety of mostly self-help CAM practices. Results: Seventy six percent of the individuals used CAM at least once in their lifetime, although 77% of participants reported having free or inexpensive access to a General Practitioner. The most commonly used CAM are natural products, massages, relaxation techniques and naturopathy, all above 20% of prevalence use. Consistent with the literature, CAM use was more prevalent among women, adults aged 30–69, higher educational levels, and monthly income between 1000€ and 1500€. Conclusion: The study provides some insight about the use of CAM in Portuguese adults and suggests the importance of further study in a larger sample of CAM usage in Portugal. The questionnaire should include a broader variety of CAM practices, as well as other health-related variables that literature suggests are related to CAM usage.


alternative medicine; CAM use; user profiles; health