Use of complementary and alternative therapy among patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis

Liliane Ballane, BSN, Student and Research Assistant, Department of Public Health, Lebanese University, Beirut
Journal of Clinical Nursing (Impact Factor: 1.26). 07/2012; 21(21-22):3198-204. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2012.04169.x
Source: PubMed


Aims and objectives.  We wanted to assess the prevalence of complementary and alternative therapy use among patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis in the Lebanese population and to determine the perceived efficacy and side effects of complementary and alternative therapy in the treatment of these diseases. Background.  Complementary and alternative therapy has become popular among patients with chronic illnesses because of its widespread use. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are two diseases associated with severe pain, inflammation and limited activity. Although both are quite common in Lebanon, no studies were conducted in our country to portray complementary and alternative therapy use in their treatment. Design.  Descriptive cross-sectional study. Methods.  Conducted individualised questionnaire-based interviews among 250 adult patients, ranging between the ages of 20-90 years and diagnosed with either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. The questionnaire included demographic information, clinical information, use of conventional therapies and complementary and alternative therapy, and the disease status before and after complementary and alternative therapy use. Results.  Fifty-eight (23·2%) patients used complementary and alternative therapy in addition to their conventional medications in the treatment of either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Most herbal medicine users (63·8%) believed that complementary and alternative therapy was beneficial. The disease status measured by the intensity of pain, sleeping pattern and level of activities was significantly improved after using complementary and alternative therapy (p = 0·01). Forty-eight (82·75%) patients were using herbals as complementary and alternative therapy, 14 (24·1%) of whom have sought medical care because of potential concomitant drug-complementary and alternative therapy side effects. However, these side effects were not serious and reversible. Conclusion and recommendations.  Although complementary and alternative therapy might have beneficial effects in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, patients should be cautious about their use and should necessarily inform their health care providers about the consumption of any products other than their conventional medicines. Relevance to clinical practice.  It is quite essential for health care professionals to be knowledgeable about the use of complementary and alternative medicine therapies when providing medical care to patients with arthritis.

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