Background: The use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) appears to be increasing. This cross-sectional study aimed to assess the use of CAM in children, investigate factors influencing their use and attitudes towards them and to contrast to previous usage patterns.
Methods: Parents of children attending gastroenterology outpatient clinics at a tertiary paediatric hospital completed a questionnaire providing details of CAM usage, awareness and attitudes.
Results: Sixty-nine percent of the 98 respondents were using or had used CAM (n= 66). Nutritional supplements (n= 37, 56% of CAM users) and probiotics (n= 33, 50%) were most commonly used. Most CAM users sought complementary therapy to help a chronic problem (n= 43, 69.4%) and had been referred by a friend or family member (n= 33, 53.2%). Self-reported well-being was associated with CAM use (P= 0.0009) and CAM were described as partially effective by 40 parents (67.8%). Forty-six parents (75.4%) expressed that they would use CAM again. Seventy-two respondents (80%) believed that doctors should support the use of CAM.
Conclusion: Children attending this gastroenterology clinic are commonly given CAM. Awareness and acceptance of CAM by carers of children with gastroenterology conditions is high.