to determine the factors associated with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among older Australian women over time.
a longitudinal analysis of postal questionnaires completed in 1996, 1999, 2002 and 2005 as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health.
the percentage of women who consulted a CAM practitioner in the years 1996, 1999, 2002 and 2005 were 14.6%, 12.1%, 10.9% and 9.9%, respectively. Use of CAM increased as the number of reported symptoms increased and physical health deteriorated, for non-urban residents compared to urban residents.
use of CAM amongst older women appears to be strongly influenced by poor physical health. There is also a suggestion that lack of access to conventional health care providers increases CAM use. There is also an overall decline in the use of CAM among older women as they age.