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J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Oct;14(8):911-9. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0127.

Use of complementary and alternative medicine among patients: classification criteria determine level of use.

Author information

1
National Research Centre in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Tromsø Science Park, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway. Agnete.Kristoffersen@fagmed.uit.no

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

Self-reported use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among patients varies widely between studies, possibly because the definition of a CAM user is not comparable. This makes it difficult to compare studies. The aim of this study is to present a six-level model for classifying patients' reported exposure to CAM. Prayer, physical exercise, special diets, over-the-counter products/CAM techniques, and personal visits to a CAM practitioner are successively removed from the model in a reductive fashion.

METHODS:

By applying the model to responses given by Norwegian patients with cancer, we found that 72% use CAM if the user was defined to include all types of CAM. This proportion was reduced successively to only 11% in the same patient group when a CAM user was defined as a user visiting a CAM practitioner four or more times. When considering a sample of 10 recently published studies of CAM use among patients with breast cancer, we found 98% use when the CAM user was defined to include all sorts of CAM. This proportion was reduced successively to only 20% when a CAM user was defined as a user of a CAM practitioner.

CONCLUSIONS:

We recommend future surveys of CAM use to report at more than one level and to clarify which intensity level of CAM use the report is based on.

PMID:
18990042
DOI:
10.1089/acm.2008.0127
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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