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Survey on the use of complementary and alternative medicine among patients with headache syndromes.

The objective was to determine headache patients' knowledge, prevalence of use and perceived effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine. Seventy-three patients with headache syndromes attending a head and neck pain clinic were interviewed using a standardized questionnaire. Alternative medical therapies were used by 85% of surveyed patients for the relief of their head pain. In 60%, the therapies were perceived to have a benefit. Almost 100% of the patients were familiar with one or more of the presented alternative treatments. Eighty-eight per cent perceived at least one of the complementary treatments to be an effective remedy for headache pain. Exposure to and interest in alternative treatments are common among patients with headache syndromes, despite the lack of scientific evidence of benefit and assessments of risks for many of the treatments. Neurologists and general physicians should be aware of the increasing role of alternative medicine in the healthcare system. There is still an urgent need for objective, integrative and critical research with regard to complementary and alternative medicine.

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