Purpose: Many people with chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP) seek healthcare from conventional and complementary and alternative medicine. However, treatment/therapy is not always adequate, patients often change healthcare providers, and some patients are left untreated. This study clarified care-seeking behaviours and explored factors behind the behaviours in people with CMP. Methods: Using a Japanese cross-sectional online survey, participants aged ≥ 20 years with non-cancer/fracture CMP lasting for ≥ 6 months and presenting ≤1 month, interfering with daily living activities and/or work were enrolled. We summarized and analysed the characteristics and factors associated with choice of healthcare providers; information on socio-demographics, including employment; ability to use healthcare, including income; and need for healthcare, including pain intensity, using a logistic regression model. Results: Among the 9105 respondents, 24.5% consulted physicians, 18.3% complementary and alternative medicine practitioners, and 57.2% were untreated. More respondents who had moderate–severe pain visited physician, more regularly employed and with high income visited complementary and alternative medicine, and less respondents who had moderate–severe pain were untreated. These were found to be associated with the respective healthcare use versus untreated. Conclusions: People with severe conditions, higher income and regular employment, and less severe conditions have visited physicians, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners and none, respectively. By applying this result at each type of healthcare provider, it may be possible to treat patients more appropriately.
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