Up to 87% of women are using some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) during their pregnancy, and this study was conducted to investigate the information sources that these women find influential in relation to such use.
The study sample was obtained via the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. This article is based on a substudy of 1835 pregnant women who were surveyed in 2010. The women answered questions about CAM use, pregnancy-related health concerns, and influential information sources in relation to CAM use. Logistic regression models were used to determine the information sources that women reported as influential in their decision making regarding CAM use.
Of the respondents (n=1835, 79.2% response rate), 48.1% (n=623) of the pregnant women consulted a CAM practitioner and 91.7% (n=1485) used a CAM product during pregnancy. The results show that, of the women who used CAM, nearly half (48%, n=493) were influenced by their own personal experience of CAM and 43% (n=423) by family and friends. Other popular sources of information were general practitioners 27% (n=263), the media (television, radio, books, magazines, newspapers) 22% (n=220), obstetricians 21% (n=208) and midwives 19% (n=190). Numerous statistically significant associations between influential information sources and pregnancy-related health conditions were identified.
Women utilize a wide variety of information sources regarding their CAM use during pregnancy. Nonprofessional sources of information were found to be particularly influential, and maternity health care professionals need to have a nonjudgmental and open discussion with women about their CAM use during pregnancy in order to ensure safe and effective maternal outcomes.