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Br J Rheumatol. 1992 Jul; 31(7): 485-90.

Rheumatologists and their patients who seek alternative care: an agreement to disagree.

Visser GJ, Peters L, Rasker JJ.

Netherlands Institute of Primary Health Care, Utrecht.

Alternative treatment, such as homoeopathy, acupuncture and spiritual healing, are popular among patients with rheumatic diseases. Rheumatologists are therefore likely to be confronted with patients who make use of less orthodox health care. Patients' and rheumatologists' views on the subject and on the rheumatologists' role, however, have not yet been assessed. A questionnaire on alternative medicine was sent to all 101 practising Dutch rheumatologists (response rate: 70%). After the results had been analysed 17 rheumatologists, seven rejecting alternative medicine and ten accepting it, handed out a questionnaire to a sample of their patients: 1466 patient questionnaires were distributed (response rate: 80%). Of the respondents 43% had visited an alternative practitioner at least once for their rheumatism and 26% in the year before the survey was held. Hand healers, homoeopaths and acupuncturists were most often visited. Rheumatologists, on their part, were not too enthusiastic about these visits. Only patients' visits to spa treatment centres were welcomed by a majority of them; visits of their patients to manipulative therapists, acupuncturists and homoeopaths were judged positively by a large minority, whereas other therapies were strongly disapproved. Nevertheless, most patients informed their rheumatologist about their visiting an alternative practitioner. A surprisingly low percentage of these patients noticed that the rheumatologist did not sympathize with it. Although many patients paid a visit to an alternative practitioner because regular care did not really help them, their satisfaction with the alternative treatment turned out to be less than their satisfaction with the rheumatologists' help.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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