Prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine use in Christchurch, New Zealand: children attending general practice versus paediatric outpatients

Kris Wilson, Claire Dowson, Dee Mangin
New Zealand Medical Journal 2007, 120 (1251): U2464

AIMS: There is little information about the use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) in New Zealand children who attend a general practitioner for intercurrent illness compared to children attending secondary care with a chronic condition where CAM use is high. This study aims to establish whether there are differences in prevalence and non-disclosure rates, information sources, and potential predictors of CAM use in these two populations of children.

METHODS: A study-devised CAM-use questionnaire was administered to 50 participants recruited from general practice surgeries and 50 from a paediatric diabetes clinic.

RESULTS: Prevalence of lifetime CAM-use was high (70%) with no significant difference between the two populations sampled. Not disclosing CAM-use to a doctor was common (77%), with the majority unintentional (87%). Parental-use was predictive of child CAM-use (OR 4.73).

CONCLUSION: CAM-use amongst New Zealand children is higher, and disclosure rates lower, when compared to overseas populations of children. This suggests that there is greater potential for New Zealand children to be at risk of adverse events directly and through interaction with prescribed medicines. Contrary to expectations, CAM-use behaviours and disclosure rates are comparable between GP and outpatient populations--suggesting that all prescribers need to explicitly ask parents about CAM-use with their children, particularly those that report CAM-use themselves.

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