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Keywords:

  • complementary and alternative medicine;
  • drug consumption;
  • herbal medicine;
  • minerals;
  • MONICA Project;
  • vitamins

Abstract. Nilsson M, Trehn G, Asplund K (University Hospital, Umeå, Sweden). Use of complementary and alternative medicine remedies in Sweden. A population-based longitudinal study within the northern Sweden MONICA Project. J Intern Med 2001; 250: 225–233.

Objectives. Previous studies have shown a high prevalence of users of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) remedies in Anglo-Saxon countries. We have explored the use of CAM remedies in Sweden, its distribution in different population groups and time trends during the years 1990–99.

Design and subjects. Within the framework of the population-based northern Sweden Multinational Monitoring of Trends and Determinants of Cardiovascular Disease (MONICA) Project, randomly selected 25–74-year-old participants in risk factor surveys performed in 1990, 1994 and 1999 responded to questions about their use of CAM remedies. The participation rate was 72%.

Results. Amongst 5794 respondents in the 1999 survey, 30.5% reported that they had taken a CAM product (vitamins, minerals or biological CAM remedy) in the preceding 2 weeks. Vitamins/minerals only had been taken by 11.7% and other CAM remedies (dominated by fish oil, ginseng and Q10) with or without vitamins/minerals by 18.8%. Use of CAM remedies was more frequent in women than in men and more frequent in people with high than with low level of education. The prevalence was unrelated to a history of severe cardiovascular disease or diabetes but significantly more common in subjects with poor self-perceived health, particularly so in women. During 1990–99, the use of CAM remedies increased, more in women than in men.

Conclusions. The prevalence of CAM remedy use (other than vitamins and minerals) is high in Sweden. It has been increasing during the 1990s. Its use is particularly common in women, well-educated people and in those with poor self-perceived health.