Use of complementary and alternative medicine remedies in Sweden. A population-based longitudinal study within the northern Sweden MONICA Project. Multinational Monitoring of Trends and Determinants of Cardiovascular Disease

M Nilsson, G Trehn, K Asplund
Journal of Internal Medicine 2001, 250 (3): 225-33

OBJECTIVES: Previous studies have shown a high prevalence of users of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) remedies in Anglo-Saxon countries. We have explored the use of CAM remedies in Sweden, its distribution in different population groups and time trends during the years 1990-99.

DESIGN AND SUBJECTS: Within the framework of the population-based northern Sweden Multinational Monitoring of Trends and Determinants of Cardiovascular Disease (MONICA) Project, randomly selected 25-74-year-old participants in risk factor surveys performed in 1990, 1994 and 1999 responded to questions about their use of CAM remedies. The participation rate was 72%.

RESULTS: Amongst 5794 respondents in the 1999 survey, 30.5% reported that they had taken a CAM product (vitamins, minerals or biological CAM remedy) in the preceding 2 weeks. Vitamins/minerals only had been taken by 11.7% and other CAM remedies (dominated by fish oil, ginseng and Q10) with or without vitamins/minerals by 18.8%. Use of CAM remedies was more frequent in women than in men and more frequent in people with high than with low level of education. The prevalence was unrelated to a history of severe cardiovascular disease or diabetes but significantly more common in subjects with poor self-perceived health, particularly so in women. During 1990-99, the use of CAM remedies increased, more in women than in men.

CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of CAM remedy use (other than vitamins and minerals) is high in Sweden. It has been increasing during the 1990s. Its use is particularly common in women, well-educated people and in those with poor self-perceived health.

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