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Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine by Patients With Chronic Tension-Type Headache: Results of a Headache Clinic Survey
Version of Record online: 5 APR 2006
Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain
Volume 46, Issue 4, pages 622–631, April 2006
How to Cite
Rossi, P., Di Lorenzo, G., Faroni, J., Malpezzi, M. G., Cesarino, F. and Nappi, G. (2006), Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine by Patients With Chronic Tension-Type Headache: Results of a Headache Clinic Survey. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 46: 622–631. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2006.00412.x
From the Headache Clinic, INI Grottaferrata, Grottaferrata, Italy (Drs. Rossi, Faroni, Cesarino); Psychiatry Unit, Department of Neuroscience, University of Rome “Tor Vergata,” Rome, Italy (Drs. Di Lorenzo, Malpezzi); Department of Clinical Neurology and Othorhinolaringology, University of Rome “La Sapienza,” Rome, Italy (Dr. Nappi); and University Centre for Adaptative Disorders and Headache, IRCCS C. Mondino Institute of Neurology and University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy (Drs. Rossi, Nappi).
- Issue online: 5 APR 2006
- Version of Record online: 5 APR 2006
- Accepted for publication August 9, 2005.
- complementary and alternative medicine;
- chronic tension-type headache;
Objectives.—This study was undertaken to evaluate the rates, pattern, and presence of predictors of complementary and alternative medicine use in a clinical population of patients with chronic tension-type headache.
Background.—The use of complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment of headaches is a growing phenomenon about which little is known.
Methods.—A total of 110 chronic tension-type headache patients attending a headache clinic participated in a physician-administered structured interview designed to gather information on complementary and alternative medicine use.
Results.—Past use of complementary and alternative therapies was reported by 40% of the patients surveyed (22.7% in the previous year). Chronic tension-type headache patients prefer complementary and alternative practitioner-administered physical treatments to self-treatments, the most frequently used being chiropractic (21.9%), acupuncture (17.8%), and massage (17.8%). Only 41.1% of the patients perceived complementary and alternative therapies to be beneficial. The most common source of recommendation of complementary and alternative medicine was a friend or relative (41.1%). Most of the chronic tension-type headache patients used complementary and alternative treatment as a specific intervention for their headache (77.3%). Almost 60% of complementary and alternative medicine users had not informed their medical doctors of their use of complementary and alternative medicine. The most common reasons given for choosing to use a complementary or alternative therapy was the “potential improvement of headache” it offered (45.4%). The patients who had used more complementary and alternative treatments were found to be those recording a higher lifetime number of visits to conventional medical doctors, those with a comorbid psychiatric disorder, those enjoying a higher (household) income, and those who had never tried a preventive pharmacological treatment.
Conclusions.—Our findings suggest that headache-clinic chronic tension-type headache patients, in their need of and quest for care, seek and explore both conventional and complementary and alternative therapies, even if only 41.1% of them perceived complementary treatments as effective. Physicians should be made aware of this patient-driven change in the medical climate in order to prevent misuse of health care resources and to be better equipped to meet patients’ care requirements.