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J Crohns Colitis. 2010 Sep;4(3):291-300. doi: 10.1016/j.crohns.2009.12.009. Epub 2010 Jan 18.

Regional variations in the use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) for inflammatory bowel disease patients in Italy: an IG-IBD study.

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Department of Surgical and Gastroenterological Sciences, Gastroenterology Section, University of Padua, Italy.



Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are being used increasingly by patients with Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). We aimed to assess the prevalence and usage of CAM in different geographical areas of Italy and possible predictors of their use.


A structured questionnaire, administered to outpatients, attending 8 general hospitals and 9 tertiary referral centres, was completed by 2011 patients (909 CD, 1087 UC and 15 indeterminate colitis). 583 patients lived in the North, 659 in Central Italy and 769 in the South.


CAM users were 475 (23.6%) with no regional differences in their distribution. Usage correlated significantly with female gender (p=0.030), higher education (p=0.021), hospitalization rates (p=0.000), extra-intestinal complications (p=0.000), non-adherence to conventional treatments (p=0.054), adverse reactions to conventional treatments (p=0.000), and active disease (p=0.007); 5-ASA usage was associated with a more limited use of CAM (p=0.005). Dietary changes or supplements and prayer were significantly more frequently reported in South, while Northern Italian patients more frequently used homeopathy, herbal medicines and physical exercises. Patients in Central Italy adopted an intermediate behavior. CAM use ameliorated the patient's general well-being according to two thirds of the users. Costs were higher for Northern patients than in Central or Southern Italy.


One in four IBD patients in Italy use CAM. More money is spent on CAM in Northern Italy. Regional differences emerged as regards the type of CAM but not in terms of disease features, frequency of and reasons for CAM use, or perceived effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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