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Fam Pract. 2004 Dec;21(6):654-60. Epub 2004 Nov 5.

Complementary and alternative medicine use in patients with chronic diseases in primary care is associated with perceived quality of care and cultural beliefs.

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  • 1Department of Community, Occupational and Family Medicine, The National University of Singapore.



The purpose of our study was to determine the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use and its clinical and psycho-social correlates, including perceived satisfaction with care and cultural health beliefs.


A cross-sectional study was carried out in public sector primary care clinics in Singapore using a random sample of 488 adult patients with chronic diseases. The measures were CAM use, satisfaction with care and traditional health beliefs.


The 1 year prevalence of CAM use was 22.7%. In univariate analyses, factors associated with CAM use included: middle age, arthritis, musculoskeletal disorders and stroke, multiple conditions, poor perceived health, family use of CAM, recommendation by close social contacts, strong adherence to traditional health beliefs and perceived satisfaction with care. Patients who were dissatisfied/very dissatisfied with the cost of treatment [odds ratio (OR) = 1.79, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.15-2.82] and waiting time (OR = 1.96, 95% CI 1.20-3.19) were more likely to use CAM. Patients who were very satisfied with the benefit from treatment were much less likely to use CAM (OR = 0.49, 95% CI 0.29-0.83). Satisfaction with doctor-patient interaction was not associated with CAM use. Being 'very satisfied' on overall care satisfaction was significantly associated with much less CAM use (OR = 0.30, 95% CI 0.14-0.68). Multivariate analyses confirmed that CAM use was significantly and independently predicted by the 'chronic disease triad' (arthritis/musculoskeletal disorders/stroke) (OR = 4.08, 95% CI 2.45-6.83), overall satisfaction with care (OR = 0.32, 95% CI 0.14-0.74) and strong adherence to traditional health beliefs (OR = 1.88, 95% CI 1.07-3.31).


CAM use in Asian patients is prevalent and associated with the 'chronic disease triad' (of arthritis, musculoskeletal disorders and stroke), satisfaction with care and cultural beliefs. In particular, CAM use is not associated with the quality of doctor-patient interaction.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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