Naturopaths making a difference.

Naturopaths and Naturopathy can make a difference:

In New Zealand several surveys have identified a significant (at least 20%) use of CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) by the public, but little information is known about actual CAM practice. Mapping the Natural Health Landscape was a comprehensive survey of New Zealand (NZ) CAM practitioners. 65 questions were asked ranging across 7 domains: Demographics and practice characteristics, professional qualifications, CAM research, integrative medical practice, registration/funding, the role of CAM in the NZ Health Strategy.

An on-line survey was developed and recruitment was conducted through two professional registers of CAM therapists (NZ Natural Health Council and Charter of Health practitioners) to which most naturopaths belong. Quantitative data was collected and analysed using STATA®. Qualitative data was also collected and analysed thematically. Descriptive, statistical and thematic analysis (coding) has been carried out to determine the characteristics of naturopathic practice.

Of the 320 participants, 65 identified that they practiced Naturopathy. Data presented will focus on selected practice characteristics; professional qualifications, Naturopath’s self-assessment of effectiveness of treatments, attitudes to research, integrative medicine and regulation and registration. A sample of results from one of the domains indicates that naturopaths contribute to the following  NZ Health Strategy objectives: reducing smoking, improving nutrition, reducing obesity, increasing the level of physical activity, minimising harm caused by alcohol and illicit and other drug use to individuals and the community, reducing cancer, reducing cardiovascular disease, reducing diabetes, improving oral health.

Although the response rate from naturopaths (26% approx. of all registered naturopaths) was small, the data indicates that naturopaths do make a significant contribution to health care in NZ; have positive attitudes to research, integration and registration/regulation and provide a quality service (in terms of time given to consultations).

Phillip Cottingham, Principal of Wellpark College (ND/BHSc/Grad Dip HSc (Herbal Medicine)/PG Dip HSc, Dip Hom/Dip Mass/MNNZ).