Prevalence of CAM use in MS survey respondents in the United States.

TitlePrevalence of CAM use in MS survey respondents in the United States.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsJohnson KL, Bamer AM, Amtmann D
JournalMultiple Sclerosis
Issue9 Suppl

Background and objective: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has been defined by the National Institutes of Health National Center on CAM to be, ‘‘a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.’’ In the US, use of CAM has been increasing and recently it has been estimated that over 40% of people use CAM. Among people with multiple sclerosis (MS), usage of CAM has been reported to range from 48 – 81% and has been associated with more symptoms, longer duration of MS, and side effects of conventional medicine. Patients receiving conventional treatment for MS often do not disclose their use of CAM to their health care providers, which can be problematic since CAM is not necessarily benign and may cause or exacerbate health conditions and/or may interact with conventional medicines. The objective of this study is to describe the use of CAM among a community based sample of adults living with MS to enhance understanding of CAM use. Methods: Survey respondents included 458 community-dwelling persons with MS that were enrolled in an ongoing longitudinal survey study of outcomes in MS. Respondents were recruited from the Greater Washington chapter of the National MS Society to participate in a large community-based survey and a random subset was invited to continue in a longitudinal survey administered three times per year. These results are from the fifth survey. In this survey individuals were asked to report on CAM use, including massage, yoga, acupuncture, omega 3, and vitamin D. Results: 81% of the respondents reported that they currently use some type of CAM. Over 65% reported that they currently use multi-vitamins, 58% vitamin D, 55% Calcium, and 36% use Omega 3. Fewer than 13% reported they currently use massage, yoga, special diets, herbal supplements, homeopathy, acupuncture, hypnosis, or chiropractic. Conclusions: Although respondents to the survey reported very high levels of CAM usage, the majority of CAM used was vitamin supplements. In addition, use of CAM providers was lower than reports in other studies and only a small minority reported using a variety of other CAM products and interventions. Nevertheless, it is critical that health care providers and patients communicate clearly about CAM use.

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