Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among hospitalised patients: reported use of CAM and reasons for use, CAM preferred during hospitalisation, and the socio-demographic determinants of CAM users

Seyed Afshin Shorofi
Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 2011, 17 (4): 199-205

PURPOSE: This paper reports a study to examine hospitalised patients' frequency and patterns of CAM use, their reasons for CAM use, their preferences of CAMs during hospitalisation, and the association between patients' socio-demographic variables and use of each individual CAM/CAM domain.

METHODS: A convenience sample of 353 patients hospitalised in 19 surgical wards at four metropolitan hospitals completed a questionnaire on CAM use and socio-demographic variables.

RESULTS: The response rate was 73.5%, and over 90% of the sample acknowledged using CAMs. Non-herbal supplements (60.3%) and massage therapy (45%) were the most frequently used CAMs, with biologically based therapies (68.8%) as well as mind-body interventions (65.4%) being the most often used CAM domains. About 1 in 10 patients (9.6%) used CAMs from all five domains. With the exception of herbal-botanical therapies, self-prayer for health reasons/spiritual healing and music therapy, all CAMs were mainly used on an 'only when needed' basis. The most common reason nominated for using CAMs was that '[it] fits into my way of life/philosophy' (26%). The majority of patients declared interest in and support for the hospital providing CAMs. Patients were most inclined to choose therapies categorised as manipulative and body-based methods (65.4%) for use in hospital. Massage therapy (53.5%) and non-herbal supplements (43.1%) were the top two CAMs favoured for use in hospital. CAM use was also dependent of socio-demographic data (age, gender, marital status, place of residence, education level, religion, and income in hospitalised patients).

CONCLUSION: The use of CAMs is pervasive amongst surgical in-patients, making it feasible to initially assess these patients for CAM use and provide them with clinically approved CAMs where possible. Notwithstanding that CAM use is fairly predictable by socio-demographic variables, further studies should be directed to know the variables useful for predicting the use of each CAM approach.

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