CAM in Austria – a brief overview

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CAM has a long tradition in Austria. Homeopathy was introduced in the 19th century, soon after its development in Germany. Homeopathic hospitals have been founded such as the Hospital of the Sisters of Mercy in Vienna. CAM acceptance has been very low in the 20th century primarily due to the weak economic situation in Austria.

During the last few years, the acceptance in the Austrian population has been growing. About 80 % of Austrians are using at least one CAM method per year. In 1996 for example there were 3.717 practice-based physicians in Vienna, of which 1.206 are general practitioners and 2.511 medical specialists. 339 of those had at least one additional training in a CAM method – this is equivalent to 9 percent of all general practitioners (GP). Comparing these numbers with those of 1998 an interesting aspect occurred:

According to an inquiry in 1998 there were 801 GPs with at least one additional training in a CAM method. This amounts to 18 percent of all GPs in 1998, and compared to 1996 this is an increase of 136% within only 2 years.

In 2007, the total number of physicians with a special training in CAM was 5,873 – a 66 percent increase compared to year 2000. 5,873 physicians had a diploma of at least one form of CAM. Acupuncture (2,999) was followed by Chiropractic manipulation (1,874), Homeopathy (593), Neural therapy (252), Traditional Chinese medicine (112) and Anthroposophical medicine (43).

Most diplomas in acupuncture

The Austrian Medical Board (in German: Österreichische Ärztekammer) recorded the number of awarded official diplomas (in German so called ÖÄK Diplom) on CAM since 1990.

When all therapies were included, a total amount of 6,382 diplomas have been awarded from 1990 up to 2007. The highest contingent was found for Acupuncture (3,330 diplomas), followed by Manual medicine (1,967 diplomas), Homeopathy (641 diplomas), Neural therapy (275 diplomas), TCM (119 diplomas) and Anthroposophical medicine (50 diplomas).

Also, “The Austrian Medical Association” was searched over the internet for training facilities of CAM diplomas. Furthermore the homepage of the “Dachverband der österreichischen Ärzte für Ganzheitsmedizin”. acted as another additional source. The search for institutions of CAM revealed 29 hits. A clear majority was found in Vienna with 17 of 29 institutions.

The facts in this article are based on a diploma thesis by Robert Strassl, 2008, and on information from Michael Frass, Robert Strassl and Lothar Krenner from Dachverband österreichischer Ärztinnen und Ärzte für Ganzheitsmedizin (Umbrella organization of Doctors for Holistic Medicine).


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