There’s a change in the way that people are using complementary medicines and it’s being led by Millennials – female Australian Millennials to be precise.
Young Australian women are changing the way complementary medicines are being used
A major study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine compared the way that young Generation X women (surveyed 1996; aged 18–23 years), and young Millennial women (surveyed 2014; aged 19–24 years) regarding consultations with complementary medicine (CM) practitioners.
CM as part of everyday health strategy
Women in the Generation X range tended to use CMs when their health was poor according to data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. Whereas young Millennial women tend to use CMs as part of their everyday health strategy, to maintain and enhance health rather than as a treatment for ill health. This highlights the emphasis Millennials place on wellness. The increased use of CMs may be due to several reasons, from increased availability, more media exposure as well as research into their use and mechanism of action.
And these young women are using CMs despite them not being publicly funded or subsidised in the Australian healthcare system.
The study showed that the use of CM by young women was consistently linked with positive health behaviours such as lower smoking or alcohol consumption and higher levels of physical activity - trends which are seen across the Australian population.
Motivations for health
Researchers are not sure about the perceptions motivating young women’s decisions to engage in positive health behaviours and why they choose to use CM. It may be that through CM use that women are choosing other healthy lifestyle choices.
Demonstrating an increased CM utilisation prevalence in young Australian women from 1996 to 2014, the study identified several predictors of CM usage across Generation X and Millennial generations. These include non-urban residence, and the presence of specific health conditions such as back pain, and frequent headaches.
The researchers suggested that the consistent use of CM by women who report having these conditions may reflect the clinical benefit they experience from their chosen treatments. Equally, being dissatisfied with available conventional treatments for these conditions may also be driving the higher rates of CM use.
Obese young women or those who reported regular smoking were less likely to use CM practices say the researchers, who go on to highlight the potential for continued increases in CM use as Millennials approach middle age and beyond.
CM use in the future
The authors state: “The potential for unprecedented proportions of Australia women accessing CM in the future is set if current young Millennial women follow CM utilization trends that increase with advancing age. These predicted future increases in CM utilization among middle-aged and older Australian women should be prepared for in urban and rural settings as well as accounted for in Australian health care access and policy planning.”