Referral to yoga therapists in rural primary health care: a survey of general practitioners in rural and regional new South Wales, Australia
Wardle, J.; Adams, J.; Sibbritt, D.
International Journal of Yoga 7(1): 9-16
Yoga is an increasingly accepted complementary treatment modality for referral in Australian general practice, yet this practitioner group has largely escaped research attention in Australia. Complementary medicine use is highest in rural and regional areas, where a number of primary health care challenges are also more pronounced. Despite the significant role of complementary therapists in rural and regional Australia, and the increasing acceptance of yoga therapy in general practice, there has been little exploration of the interface between yoga therapists and conventional primary health care practitioners in this area. A 27-item questionnaire was sent to all 1486 general practitioners (GPs) currently practising in rural and regional Divisions of General Practice in New South Wales, Australia. Completed questionnaires were returned by 585 GPs, with 49 returned as 'no longer at this address' (response rate 40.7%). One-in-eight GPs (12.1%) advised their patients of specific yoga therapies and protocols, and 7.2% advised specific meditation techniques. Three-quarters of GPs (76.6%) referred to a yoga therapist at least a few times per year, with 12.5% of GPs referring at least once per week. GPs being in a remote location (OR = 10.95; CI: 1.55, 77.31), being female (OR = 1.85; 95% CI: 1.16, 2.94), GPs graduating from an Australian medical school (OR = 4.52; 95% CI: 2.61, 7.80), perceiving lack of other treatment options (OR = 3.29; 95% CI: 1.61, 6.74), GPs reporting good or very good knowledge of yoga therapies (OR = 18.2; 95% CI: 9.19, 36.19), and GPs using CAM for their own personal health (OR = 4.53; 95% CI: 2.60, 7.87) were all independently predictive of increased referral to yoga therapists amongst the rural GPs in this study. There is a significant interface between yoga therapists in Australian rural and regional general practice. There is generally high support for yoga therapies among Australian GPs, with low levels of opposition to the incorporation of these therapies in patient care. There is a need for increased research into yoga therapies practice, policy and regulation in these areas.