Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Dr. Kim Shuey

Second Advisor

Dr. Tracey Adams


Recent changes to the regulation of natural health products (NHPs) - a type of complementary and alternative medicine - have led to questions about inequality in the use of these products. Limited research identifies inequality in use, but primarily interprets this as a product of cultural/behavioural factors. This thesis approaches the issue of NHP use from the perspective of fundamental cause theory. It focuses on understanding the extent to which the material/structural factors that contribute to health inequalities more generally influence NHP use. Using data from the Canadian National Population Health Survey, the relationships between NHP use and social determinants of health were examined in 1994/1995 and 2004/2005. Findings indicate that use has increased over time, and that income and education predict use, even when other factors are controlled. Results further suggest the growing importance of resources over time. In light of these findings, implications for Canadian regulation of NHPs are discussed.



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