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Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use for Headache and Migraine: A Critical Review of the Literature

Authors

  • Jon Adams PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. From the Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia (J. Adams); School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia (G. Barbery and C.-W. Lui).
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  • Gaery Barbery MPH,

    1. From the Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia (J. Adams); School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia (G. Barbery and C.-W. Lui).
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  • Chi-Wai Lui PhD

    1. From the Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia (J. Adams); School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia (G. Barbery and C.-W. Lui).
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J. Adams, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, UTS Building 10, Level 7, 235-253 Jones Street, Ultimo NSW 2007, Australia, email: jon.adams@uts.edu.au

Abstract

Contexts.— An evidence base for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) consumption within general populations is emerging. However, research data on CAM use for headache disorders remain poorly documented. This paper, constituting the first critical review of literature on this topic, provides a synopsis and evaluation of the research findings on CAM use among patients with headache and migraine.

Methods.— A comprehensive search of literature from 2000 to 2011 in CINAHL, MEDLINE, AMED, and Health Sources was conducted. The search was confined to peer-reviewed articles published in English reporting empirical research findings of CAM use among people with primary headache or migraine.

Results.— The review highlights a substantial level of CAM use among people with headache and migraine. There is also evidence of many headache and migraine sufferers using CAM concurrent to their conventional medicine use. Overall, the existing studies have been methodologically weak and there is a need for further rigorous research employing mixed method designs and utilizing large national samples.

Discussion.— The critical review highlights the substantial prevalence of CAM use among people with headache and migraine as a significant health care delivery issue, and health care professionals should be prepared to inquire and discuss possible CAM use with their patients during consultations. Health care providers should also pay attention to the possible adverse effects of CAM or interactions between CAM and conventional medical treatments among headache and migraine patients.

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