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October 2021

J Altern Complement Med. 1998 Fall; 4(3): 277-9.

Characteristics of users and nonusers of alternative medicine in dermatologic patients attending a university hospital clinic: a short report.

Berg M, Arnetz B.

Department of Dermatology, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.

OBJECTIVES: To study the characteristics of users of alternative medicine in dermatologic outpatients attending a university clinic. DESIGN: A cross-sectional study analyzed by using a case-control methodology. SETTING, SUBJECTS, AND STUDY MEASURES: 118 dermatologic patients attending an outpatient university clinic responded to a structured questionnaire concerning demographic data, medical history, experience with alternative medicine, health beliefs, lifestyle, and locus of control. RESULTS: Thirty-five percent of the patients reported having used some form of alternative medicine. Use was related to disease duration, but not to patients' beliefs regarding whether or not they could influence their own health, nor to dissatisfaction with orthodox medicine. The most common reason for trying alternative medicine was that they "wanted to try everything" in an attempt to cure the skin disease. Users stated to a greater extent than nonusers, that they exercised sufficiently, possibly indicating that they are more health conscious. CONCLUSIONS: The study suggests that dermatologic patients using alternative medicine in general do not differ with regard to personal characteristics from nonusers. Rather, it appears that patients with long-standing skin disease turn to alternative medicine as a complement to orthodox treatment.

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