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Arthritis Care Res. 1993 Sep;6(3):149-55.

Factors affecting unprescribed remedy use among people with self-reported arthritis.



The purpose of the study is to determine the frequency and consequences of use of unprescribed remedies by people with self-reported osteoarthritis, and to find methods for predicting such use.


A random digit telephone survey was used to contact respondents. A 90-item questionnaire evaluated demographic characteristics, type of disorder, area affected, severity of problem, and symptoms encountered.


Among 1,811 contacts, 21% had musculoskeletal complaints. Of those with self-reported musculoskeletal disorders, 84% had used at least one unprescribed remedy during the past 6 months. People with self-reported rheumatoid arthritis used more such remedies than those with self-reported osteoarthritis, and those with a greater degree of disability used more unprescribed remedies than those who were less affected. Unprescribed remedies were rated as effective as prescribed remedies.


Unprescribed remedies are used frequently, particularly by those with painful and disabling arthritis. These remedies may be effective. Harmful and expensive remedies are used rarely.

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