• alternative;
  • clinic;
  • complementary;
  • cost;
  • neurological;
  • therapy

Background and purpose:  Complementary and alternative therapy (CAT) use is frequent in patients with the common neurological disorders despite little scientific evidence of its efficacy. Little is known about the cost of regular CAT use. The purposes of this study were to determine the frequency and cost of CAT use in patients attending a neurology out-patient clinic and to determine whether neurological diagnosis affects CAT use.

Methods:  All patients attending the neurology out-patient clinic were asked to complete a structured questionnaire which included demographic information, details on the underlying neurological diagnosis, use and cost of CAT.

Results:  Six hundred and seventy-one patients completed the questionnaire. Over 60% of the patients had used CAT, and 25% used CAT on a regular basis. Only 25% of patients using CAT had informed their doctor. Rates of CAT use varied with neurological diagnosis. Of those using CAM on a regular basis, the mean annual cost was €1351.

Conclusion:  Patients attending our neurology out-patient department use CAT frequently and often do not inform their doctor. Patients spend a significant amount of personal income on CAT. Given the implications, including potential interactions with prescribed medication, these findings should prompt doctors to ask every patient about CAT use.