Recourse to Complementary/Alternative Medicine (CAM) at Times of Economic Crisis: The Case of Italy
Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy
The economic crisis that has invested western countries in the last years has determined a significant reduction in consumption of medication and treatments recourse, too. The Economic recession is generally accompanied by a decrease in health-related consumption, varying according to the welfare model, and especially affecting people of working age with a low income. The present paper focuses on the effects of the economic crisis on users of Complementary/Alternative Medicine treatments (from now on referred as CAM). Based on multi-purpose data analyses, this work aims to examine what kind of strategies such consumers have adopted in order not to neglect their health despite feeling the economic pinch. Our analyses are principally based on ISTAT, Italian National Institute for Recording Statistics findings. Specifically, our research is based on the survey “Health conditions and recourse to health services”. The analysed data refer to the Italian context in the period comprised from 2000 to 2013. The results of this work reveal how, in this delicate phase of the economy, traditional consumers of CAM have signally reduced their use of such treatments. In Italy, in the observed period, factors as working status, age, smoking and chronic diseases have been determinant in the decision to use CAM. The article suggests that, where health is at stake, CAM users are more strategic than the average biomedicine users. Furthermore, confirming the past trend, it shows how difficult it is to afford forms of treatment not covered by the health system as well as it underlines the lack of data for comparison with other countries.