Yhdistävä lääketiede ry

Our study on complementary treatments

More than half of Finns use complementary treatments and the majority feel that they benefit from them​

In our recently published study, 51% of Finns have used some complementary and integrative health modalities in the 12 months preceding the study. 3,244 Finns over the age of 16 responded to the survey.

The treatments were divided into three groups in the study: 

1. self-help methods
2. nurse services
3. nutritional supplements without vitamins and trace elements, herbs, and homeopathic products.

29% of the respondents had used supplementary self-help methods. Relaxation techniques (15%), meditation (10%), imagery exercises (10%) and yoga (9%) were most commonly used. In addition, other means were sauna (53%), seeking help from nature (40%), art (21%) and praying for one’s health (12%).

20% of respondents had used the services provided by nurses. The most used services were various massages (for example fascia, nerve path or lymphatic massage), limb repair and osteopathy, each of which was used by 4–5% of the respondents.

The vast majority (73% or more) of those who used any self-help tool or the service of a caregiver reported that they found the form of treatment they used useful.

27% of the respondents had used nutritional supplements (does not contain vitamins and trace elements), herbs or homeopathic preparations. 82% of the respondents had used natural products, which included vitamins and trace elements in addition to the previous ones.

Hanna Kortejärvi, executive director of Integrative Healthcare Finland, Doctor of Pharmacy, says that based on studies, people choose these self-paid treatments outside of health care most often as preventive health care and alongside established health services. He states that complementary treatments are an underutilized resource and opportunity in health promotion and disease prevention. Some complementary treatments are already used in healthcare, because there is sufficient research evidence for them also in the treatment of diseases and symptoms. Examples of such are e.g. mindfulness and yoga in mental health disorders.

More research data and constructive social discussion are needed about the benefits, harms and utilization of complementary treatments, sums up Kortejärvi. Integrative Healthcare Finland responds to this need by conducting research, organizing seminars and trainings, and interviewing experts.

Kortejärvi proposes to Petteri Orpo’s government, in accordance with the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) that a strategy for the supply and use of traditional treatments and other complementary treatments be drawn up in Finland to support public healthcare. According to Kortejärvi, the strategic work on traditional and complementary therapies should be combined with the analysis of the regulatory need for alternative therapies mentioned in the government program. Such a strategy has already been drawn up in 98 WHO member countries.

The survey was conducted by Kantar Public in December 2022 and the study was published by BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. The results have been weighted to represent Finland’s 16-year-old population by age, gender and residential area. The research has been funded by Child and Nature Foundation.


Hanna Kortejärvi, executive director 040 7241958

Maija Pyykkönen, researcher, master’s in neuropsychology 040 7727358

Pauliina Aarva, researcher, docent 050 5986237

Pyykkönen, M., Aarva, P., Ahola, S., Pasanen, M. and Helin, K. Use of complementary and integrative health in Finland: a cross-sectional survey. BMC Complement Med Ther 23, 279 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-023-04088-4