Complementary and alternative medicine in children attending gastroenterology clinics: usage patterns and reasons for use

Veena Wadhera, Daniel A Lemberg, Steven T Leach, Andrew S Day
Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 2011, 47 (12): 904-10

BACKGROUND: The use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) appears to be increasing. This cross-sectional study aimed to assess the use of CAM in children, investigate factors influencing their use and attitudes towards them and to contrast to previous usage patterns.

METHODS: Parents of children attending gastroenterology outpatient clinics at a tertiary paediatric hospital completed a questionnaire providing details of CAM usage, awareness and attitudes.

RESULTS: Sixty-nine percent of the 98 respondents were using or had used CAM (n= 66). Nutritional supplements (n= 37, 56% of CAM users) and probiotics (n= 33, 50%) were most commonly used. Most CAM users sought complementary therapy to help a chronic problem (n= 43, 69.4%) and had been referred by a friend or family member (n= 33, 53.2%). Self-reported well-being was associated with CAM use (P= 0.0009) and CAM were described as partially effective by 40 parents (67.8%). Forty-six parents (75.4%) expressed that they would use CAM again. Seventy-two respondents (80%) believed that doctors should support the use of CAM.

CONCLUSION: Children attending this gastroenterology clinic are commonly given CAM. Awareness and acceptance of CAM by carers of children with gastroenterology conditions is high.

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