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J Rheumatol. 1994 Jan;21(1):148-52.

Alternative medicine use by rheumatology patients in a universal health care setting.

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Rheumatic Disease Unit, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



To assess the prevalence, extent of use, and cost of alternative medicine by patients attending a rheumatology clinic.


Two hundred and thirty-five unselected consecutive patients attending a rheumatology clinic were evaluated by questionnaire to record their current use of alternative medicine practices.


Sixty-six percent of patients had used alternative medicine interventions in the preceding 12 months; 54% used over the counter products, 39% spiritual aids (including prayer, relaxation, meditation), and 13% each had visited alternative practitioners or used dietary interventions. Patients in the upper middle income group and French speaking patients used more bought products, but no other differences were observed when the groups were analyzed according to level of education, income or cultural background. The current annual cost for the patients of alternative medical therapies was $100.


Our results demonstrate a moderate use of alternative medicine by rheumatology patients, mostly inexpensive products and no cost spiritual aids. Universal health care may have a negative impact on the extent of use of more costly practices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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