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October 2021

Am J Gastroenterol. 1998 May; 93(5): 697-701.

Complementary medicine use by patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

Hilsden RJ, Scott CM, Verhoef MJ.

Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to establish the degree and determinants of the use of complementary therapies by patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and their reasons for seeking them. METHODS: The first phase was a cross-sectional survey of 134 patients with IBD (98 with Crohn's disease, 34 with ulcerative colitis, and two indeterminate) using a mailed, structured questionnaire (response rate 70%). Determinants of complementary medicine use were examined using logistic regression. The second phase was an in-depth exploration using personal interviews of the beliefs and perceptions of 14 complementary medicine users about the management of their disease. Analysis was performed using standard qualitative techniques and the identification of important, patient-identified themes about the management of IBD. RESULTS: Complementary therapies had been used by 51% of patients in the previous 2 yr. Current use was reported by 33%, of whom one-half were using it for their IBD. Vitamins and herbal products were the most commonly reported therapies. In multivariate analysis, duration of disease > 10 yr and a history of hospitalization were independent predictors of complementary medicine use. The side effects and lack of effectiveness of standard therapies were the most commonly cited reasons for seeking complementary medicine. Sixty-two percent had told their doctor about their use of complementary medicine. CONCLUSION: Complementary medicine use is common in patients with IBD, especially among those with a longer duration of disease or a history of hospitalization.

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