The use of herbal medicine by adults with anxiety: a critical exploration of health behaviour

Erica McIntyre, Anthony Saliba, Karl Wiener

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background: Anxiety is a significant mental health problem, with over 2.3 million Australians experiencing an anxiety disorder in the previous 12 months. Australians are also high users of herbal medicines; however, little is known about how adults experiencing anxiety are using herbal medicines. There are significant ramifications for public health if people with anxiety symptoms do not receive adequate treatment.
Method: Purposive criterion sampling was used to recruit Australian adults who used herbal medicines and experienced anxiety (N = 400). An online survey was conducted that measured demographics, anxiety symptoms, medicine use, health care services use, information sources, disclosure of herbal medicine use, and beliefs and attitudes to herbal medicines.
Results: It was found that adults with anxiety are consulting with a range of health practitioners; however, they were also self-prescribing a range of herbal medicines, not disclosing their herbal medicine use to general practitioners (48%) or other health professionals (55%), using herbal medicines concurrently with pharmaceuticals (27.5%), and using a range of non-professional information sources. Structural equation modelling found severity of anxiety symptoms, subjective norms, and control beliefs to be significant predictors of intention to use herbal medicines for the treatment of anxiety symptoms.
Conclusion: The findings indicate that herbal medicine use by adults with anxiety is a complex health behaviour that has implications for public health; specifically, that people may not be receiving adequate treatment for their anxiety symptoms, and are potentially at risk of herb/drug interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Event15th World Congress on Public Health - Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 03 Apr 201707 Apr 2017 (Conference website)


Conference15th World Congress on Public Health
Abbreviated titleVoices. Vision. Action.
OtherThe World Congress on Public Health (WCPH) is held every 2-4 years by the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) and it attracts between 2,000-4,000 delegates.

The Congress serves as an international forum for the exchange of knowledge and experiences on key public health issues, contributing towards protecting and promoting public health at a national and global level.

This Congress aims to improve public health by:
Engaging diverse voices, ideas, vision and actions of committed professionals and citizens to strengthen and transform the global public health effort and influence decision makers
Analysing, demonstrating, and sharing local, regional and global public health lessons particularly gender and discrimination
Examining the effective translation of evidence based science into action
Articulating and promoting the pivotal role of health in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Supporting and nurturing the next generation of public health leaders
Building on the intent of the Kolkata Declaration 2015 and Global Charter for Public Health
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the WFPHA
Celebrating World Health Day, 7 April 2017.
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