Use of complementary and alternative medicine among adults with skin disease: Results from a national survey

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Abstract

Background

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is commonly used for a variety of diseases in the United States. Limited population-based data exist on CAM use among patients with dermatologic conditions

Objective

We sought to determine the extent and the nature of CAM use in the United States among people with skin problems.

Methods

We conducted a cross-sectional survey using the 2002 National Health Interview Survey and the Alternative Health Supplement.

Results

Among those reporting skin problems in the past year, 49.4% (95% confidence interval 47.2-51.6) had used CAM. Only 6.0% of this group (95% confidence interval 4.2-7.7) used CAM specifically for skin disease. Those reporting skin problems were more likely to use CAM than those who did not report skin problems (odds ratio 1.7, P ≤ .001, 95% confidence interval 1.6-1.8). The most commonly used CAM modality was nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products (ie, herbals).

Limitations

Because of the nature of a cross-sectional study, it is not possible to know whether the skin problem or the CAM use came first (except in situations where they used CAM specifically for skin problems). Because this is not a dermatology-focused database, the definition of skin disease is vague.

Conclusion

CAM use among adults with skin problems in the Unites States is common. Dermatologists should have candid discussions with their patients regarding CAM use.

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