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Clin Rheumatol. 2008 Jan;27(1):29-33. Epub 2007 Jun 1.

Use of complementary and alternative medicine by rheumatoid arthritis patients in Korea.

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Department of Rheumatology, School of Medicine, Wonkwang University, Iksan, South Korea.


This study measured the prevalence of use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in Korean patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A trained nurse conducted 20-min questionnaire-based interviews at the hospitals when each patient visited as an outpatient. The questionnaire included questions on demographic information, clinical information, and the use of CAM. Of the 153 respondents, 125 (82%) had used CAM; 37% of those who used CAM had started taking CAM products following suggestions from family members and other relatives. In users of CAM, 35% considered that it improved the symptoms of RA, and 14% felt it was effective in achieving psychological relaxation. We categorized treatment into six CAM categories used by the respondents: 84.0% of patients used traditional Oriental medical treatments, 70.4% used plant- and animal-derived over-the-counter health care products, and 13.6% used manual therapies. Most RA patients (64%) would like to try a new type of CAM. About half of the respondents (48%) expected to receive information about CAM from their general practitioner even if most (72%) did not discuss their use of CAM with their doctor. Most of the RA patients in this study used CAM, and half reported beneficial effects. Despite the presence of adverse side effects, patients tended to use CAM without discussing it with their main physicians, suggesting that physicians should be actively involved in the prescription and use of CAM.

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