Rheumatology patients' use of complementary therapies: Results from a one-year longitudinal study

Authors

  • Jaya K. Rao,

    Corresponding author
    1. Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
    Current affiliation:
    1. Health Care and Aging Studies Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
    • CDC, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, MS K-51, Atlanta, GA 30341
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  • Kurt Kroenke,

    1. Indiana University School of Medicine and Regenstrief Institute for Health Care, Indianapolis, Indiana
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  • Kimberly A. Mihaliak,

    1. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Indianapolis, Indiana
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  • Steven C. Grambow,

    1. Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
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  • Morris Weinberger

    1. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Indiana University School of Medicine, and Regenstrief Institute for Health Care, Indianapolis, Indiana
    Current affiliation:
    1. University of North Carolina School of Public Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Abstract

Objective

To examine the natural history of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use and its impact on outcomes within a cohort of rheumatology patients.

Methods

Consecutive patients were recruited from 3 university and 3 private rheumatology practices. Baseline chart reviews provided demographic information and rheumatic diagnoses. Patients answered questions on CAM use and health status during 1 year. We identified correlates of 4 CAM usage patterns (started, maintained, stopped, nonuse) and compared outcomes among these groups.

Results

Of 232 baseline participants, 203 (87%) and 177 (76%) responded to the 6- and 12-month surveys. In each survey, approximately 34% reported currently using CAM. During the year, 44% of patients remained nonusers whereas 12% started, 22% maintained, and 22% stopped use. The most frequent reasons for stopping CAM were lack of effectiveness and expense. CAM users and nonusers had no difference in outcomes.

Conclusions

Arthritis patients' usage behavior varied substantially, but CAM use was not associated with a difference in outcomes.

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