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Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 7;9(1):1573. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-38279-8.

Disclosure of complementary medicine use to medical providers: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, Australia.
Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, Australia.
Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine, Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Faculty of Medicine, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.


Concomitant complementary medicine (CM) and conventional medicine use is frequent and carries potential risks. Yet, CM users frequently neglect to disclose CM use to medical providers. Our systematic review examines rates of and reasons for CM use disclosure to medical providers. Observational studies published 2003-2016 were searched (AMED, CINAHL, MEDLINE, PsycINFO). Eighty-six papers reporting disclosure rates and/or reasons for disclosure/non-disclosure of CM use to medical providers were reviewed. Fourteen were selected for meta-analysis of disclosure rates of biologically-based CM. Overall disclosure rates varied (7-80%). Meta-analysis revealed a 33% disclosure rate (95%CI: 24% to 43%) for biologically-based CM. Reasons for non-disclosure included lack of inquiry from medical providers, fear of provider disapproval, perception of disclosure as unimportant, belief providers lacked CM knowledge, lacking time, and belief CM was safe. Reasons for disclosure included inquiry from medical providers, belief providers would support CM use, belief disclosure was important for safety, and belief providers would give advice about CM. Disclosure appears to be influenced by the nature of patient-provider communication. However, inconsistent definitions of CM and lack of a standard measure for disclosure created substantial heterogeneity between studies. Disclosure of CM use to medical providers must be encouraged for safe, effective patient care.

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