Characteristics of complementary medicine therapists in Switzerland: A cross-sectional study

Autoři: Julie Dubois aff001;  Anne-Sylvie Bill aff001;  Jérôme Pasquier aff001;  Silva Keberle aff003;  Bernard Burnand aff001;  Pierre-Yves Rodondi aff001
Působiště autorů: Center for Primary Care and Public Health (Unisanté), University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland aff001;  Institute of Family Medicine, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland aff002;  Empirical Medicine Register, Basel, Switzerland aff003
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(10)
Kategorie: Research Article



More than 27,000 complementary medicine (CM) therapists are registered in Switzerland, but limited data are available on their occupational profile and role in the healthcare system. Herein we aimed to gain a better understanding of the professional profile of non-physician licensed therapists, focusing on acupuncture, osteopathy, and European naturopathy.


This cross-sectional study was based on an online anonymous survey conducted from March to June 2017.

Setting and participants

All 1549 non-physician registered osteopaths, acupuncturists, and naturopaths in the French-speaking part of Switzerland were asked to complete the survey.

Main outcome measures

We measured the therapists’ demographics, training and practice characteristics, and workload.


A total of 426 therapists returned the questionnaire (response rate: 27.5%). The mean age of the respondents was 46.0 years (SD 11.6) and most were women (67.8%). CM represented the main professional activity for a majority of therapists (82.8%), most of whom were independent (86.3%). The length and number of consultations per month varied across professions. Multivariate analysis showed that acupuncturists and naturopaths performed significantly fewer consults per month than osteopaths did. However, consultation length was significantly longer for acupuncturists and naturopaths than for osteopaths. Acupuncturists (71.6%) and naturopaths (64.4%) were significantly more favorable than osteopaths (27.7%) to have consultation costs covered by basic health insurance. Professional profiles differed between osteopaths, on the one hand, and naturopaths and acupuncturists, on the other, mainly regarding workload, treatment duration, and main reasons to consult.


This first study to investigate a variety of therapist profiles in Switzerland provides useful information about their activities and role within the Swiss healthcare system. Although all three professions are encompassed under the same umbrella term (CM), our study showed that they have specific work cultures and areas of intervention in the healthcare system.

Klíčová slova:

Acupuncture – Complementary and alternative medicine – Health insurance – Physicians – Professions – Switzerland – Naturopathy – Osteopathy


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