Complementary and alternative medicine use in veterans with multiple sclerosis: Prevalence and demographic associations

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Puget Sound Health Care System (PSHCS), Health Services Research and Development Service, Seattle, WA 98108, USA.
The Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development (Impact Factor: 1.43). 01/2006; 43(1):99-110. DOI: 10.1682/JRRD.2004.08.0110
Source: PubMed


The present study explored complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in veterans with multiple sclerosis (MS). We administered self-report questionnaires to 451 veterans who received healthcare from Veterans Health Administration facilities. CAM use among veterans with MS was widespread; 37% of respondents reported current or past use. Roughly 33% of CAM users reported using multiple interventions, and 40% of respondents desired interventions that they were not already using. Logistic regression suggested that CAM use was more likely among participants with graduate-level education, poor self-reported health over the past year, and a progressive relapsing MS subtype. Participants who used traditional medical services were also more likely to use CAM, which suggests that CAM services are used in addition to, as opposed to in place of, traditional services. As others have proposed, these results suggest that care providers who work with persons with MS would be well served to understand, routinely screen for, and make use of CAM when appropriate.

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Available from: Duncan G Campbell
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    • "Research has shown that prevalence of CAM use among people with MS ranges between 50-70% [2] and that CAM treatments are used for both specific and non-specific purposes [1,3-5]. Typically, people with MS who use CAM combine it with conventional treatments, although exclusive CAM users exist as well (the prevalence ranging from 10-30%) [6-9]. A recent Danish study has shown that 89.5% of the respondents among members of the Danish MS society, who had used CAM within the past year, had used it in combination with conventional treatments, most often conventional drug therapies (CDT) [10,11]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Most users of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) combine it with conventional medicine. Recent risk assessment studies have shown risks of negative interactions between CAM and conventional medicine, particularly when combining herbal medicine and conventional drug therapies (CDT). Little is known about the way users consider such risks. The present paper aims to gain knowledge about this issue by exploring views on risks of negative interactions when combining herbal medicine and CDT among people with multiple sclerosis (MS). This paper draws on a qualitative follow-up study on a survey among members of the Danish MS Society. Semi-structured, in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with a strategic selection from the survey respondents. The study was inspired by a phenomenological approach and emerging themes were extracted from the data through meaning condensation. Four themes characterized the informants' views on risks of negative interactions when combining herbal medicine and CDT: 1) 'naturalness' in herbal medicine; 2) 'bodily sensations' as guidelines; 3) trust in the CAM practitioner; 4) lack of dialogue with medical doctor. Generally, the combination of herbal medicine and CDT was considered by the informants to be safe. In particular, they emphasized the 'non-chemical' nature of herbal medicine and of their own bodily sensations as warrants of safety. A trustful relation to the CAM practitioner furthermore made some of them feel safe in their use of herbal medicine and CDT in combination. The informants' use of bodily sensations as a non-discursive risk assessment may be a relevant element in understanding these issues.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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    • "among people with MS ranges from 41% in Spain to 70% in Canada and 82% in Australia [8] [21] [22]. The reasons for CAM use vary from treatment of concrete symptoms [4] [5] [13] [23] [24] to bodily exploration and development of coping strategies [18, 25–28], and CAM treatments are most often used in combination with conventional treatment [17] [22] [29] [30]. In Denmark, results of previous small-scale and often unpublished studies suggest that the prevalence of CAM treatment use is fairly consistent among individuals with MS, ranging from 48% "
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    ABSTRACT: Aims. The aim of the study was to describe and compare (1) the types and prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments used among individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the Nordic countries; (2) the types of conventional treatments besides disease-modifying medicine for MS that were used in combination with CAM treatments; (3) the types of symptoms/health issues addressed by use of CAM treatments. Methods. An internet-based questionnaire was used to collect data from 6455 members of the five Nordic MS societies. The response rates varied from 50.9% in Norway to 61.5% in Iceland. Results. A large range of CAM treatments were reported to be in use in all five Nordic countries. Supplements of vitamins and minerals, supplements of oils, special diet, acupuncture, and herbal medicine were among the CAM treatment modalities most commonly used. The prevalence of the overall use of CAM treatments within the last twelve months varied from 46.0% in Sweden to 58.9% in Iceland. CAM treatments were most often used in combination with conventional treatments. The conventional treatments that were most often combined with CAM treatment were prescription medication, physical therapy, and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. The proportion of CAM users who reported exclusive use of CAM (defined as use of no conventional treatments besides disease-modifying medicine for MS) varied from 9.5% in Finland to 18.4% in Norway. In all five Nordic countries, CAM treatments were most commonly used for nonspecific/preventative purposes such as strengthening the body in general, improving the body's muscle strength, and improving well-being. CAM treatments were less often used for the purpose of improving specific symptoms such as body pain, problems with balance, and fatigue/lack of energy. Conclusions. A large range of CAM treatments were used by individuals with MS in all Nordic countries. The most commonly reported rationale for CAM treatment use focused on improving the general state of health. The overall pattern of CAM treatment use was similar across the five countries.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012
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    • "The severity of the disease may also influence the use of CAM [9] [10]. MS patients appear to especially value mindbody therapies, perhaps attributable to their psychological effects in reducing stress, which is known to exacerbate MS symptoms [5] [11] [12]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic demyelinating neurological disease. Several studies have reported that complementary and alternative therapies can have positive effects against pain in these patients. Objective. The objective was to investigate the effectiveness of an Ai-Chi aquatic exercise program against pain and other symptoms in MS patients. Methods. In this randomized controlled trial, 73 MS patients were randomly assigned to an experimental or control group for a 20-week treatment program. The experimental group underwent 40 sessions of Ai-Chi exercise in swimming pool and the control group 40 sessions of abdominal breathing and contraction-relaxation exercises in therapy room. Outcome variables were pain, disability, spasm, depression, fatigue, and autonomy, which were assessed before the intervention and immediately and at 4 and 10 weeks after the last treatment session. Results. The experimental group showed a significant (P < 0.028) and clinically relevant decrease in pain intensity versus baseline, with an immediate posttreatment reduction in median visual analogue scale scores of 50% that was maintained for up to 10 weeks. Significant improvements were also observed in spasm, fatigue, disability, and autonomy. Conclusion. According to these findings, an Ai-Chi aquatic exercise program improves pain, spasms, disability, fatigue, depression, and autonomy in MS patients.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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