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J Rheumatol. 2002 Nov;29(11):2435-41.

Use of complementary and alternative therapies by patients self-reporting arthritis or rheumatism: results from a nationwide canadian survey.

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  • 1Department of Rheumatology, Hospital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France.



Arthritis or rheumatism (A/R) often leads patients to experiment with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); we investigated the factors associated with use of CAM.


The source of the data is the cross sectional household component of the 1996-97 National Population Health Survey of the health status and behaviors of Canadians. The survey sample is based on 66,000 persons aged 20 years and older, representing 21 million adults. Cross tabulations were used to estimate the percentage of adults with A/R who used CAM. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify those characteristics associated with the use of CAM in the year preceding the survey.


In 1996-97, among the 3.3 million Canadian adults aged 20 years or older who self-reported arthritis, 22% utilized CAM in the past year. CAM users tended to be younger and with higher education and household income. They reported more pain, consumed more analgesics, and tended to be more depressed. The coexistence of back or bowel disorders, cancer, sinusitis, or food allergies with arthritis was also related to CAM use. Moreover, CAM users also used more traditional health resources.


Our results indicate that patients with A/R consulting CAM providers self-report more intense symptoms than nonusers and often have other chronic conditions. They do not seem to reject the traditional health care system, but supplement it with CAM, possibly to fulfill needs insufficiently satisfied by traditional health care providers.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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