Objective: The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the use of complementary and alternative medicine among patients with chronic diseases at outpatient clinics. Another aim was to identify demographic and socio-economic factors that are associated with CAM use.
Research design and methods: Face-to-face interviews of conveniently selected patients with chronic diseases were conducted in outpatient clinics of a general hospital. A validated data collection form was used to gather the information regarding pattern, perception, reasons, and perceived effect of CAM on the disease state. The other relevant information including demographics, diagnosis, indication, and treatment were collected from the patients' medical records.
Results: Out of 321 patients interviewed in this study, 205 patients were using some form of CAM, and thus the utilisation rate was 63.9%. A significant number of patients (35.5%) were using CAM for diabetes mellitus. Thirteen types of CAM were identified in the study with the most common being vitamins supplements (48.2%), herbal medicines (26.4%), ginseng (4.7%) and traditional Chinese medicine (4.0%). The patients with higher education level, higher income, and aged more than 50 years were independently associated with CAM use. Majority of the patients (77.6%) reported that their condition had improved by using CAM.
Conclusion: The present study confirms the high frequency of CAM use among patients with chronic diseases in a Malaysian public hospital. The popularity of CAM indicated the patients' preference towards holistic approach to health care.