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J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Feb;20(2):130-5. doi: 10.1089/acm.2012.0973. Epub 2013 Nov 9.

Parents' attitudes toward the use of complementary therapy by their children with moderate or severe cerebral palsy.

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1 Centre for Nursing and Allied Health Research, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children , NHS Trust, London, United Kingdom .



To describe the use of, and attitudes toward, complementary therapy (CT) by parents of children with moderate to severe cerebral palsy.


Parents of 32 children with cerebral palsy (age 5-12 years) enrolled in a randomized trial of cranial osteopathy prospectively participated in semi-structured interviews in the home to explore the use of CT and views regarding access to and expectations of these therapies. Interview transcripts were analyzed thematically, and content analysis was used to determine the frequency of use of different therapies.


Sixteen children (50%) had received one or more types of CT, although only three were currently receiving any CT. The primary reasons for trying CT were to reduce children's pain and improve physical function. Parents had limited knowledge of the range of, and possible indications for, CT and expressed concerns about CT safety and effectiveness. Practical considerations of time and cost were also identified. Some parents had strong beliefs about the benefits, and, overall, parents indicated a high level of commitment to finding any treatments, conventional or CT, to help their children.


Parents of children with cerebral palsy want to help their child, but they need information, guidance, and practical support to facilitate their decision-making regarding the use of CT. A clearer understanding of factors predictive of optimal outcomes will enable resources to be targeted effectively.

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