Utilization and Perception of Integrative Medicine Among Plastic Surgery Patients

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Abstract

Background

Integrative medicine (IM) is currently used by 40% of Americans. Our objective is to examine the prevalence and perception of IM utilization in patients being evaluated for elective plastic surgery.

Methods

In July 2014, 402 consecutive patients presenting to plastic surgery clinics at the University of Florida, Veterans Affairs (VA), and Private Practices in Gainesville, Florida were requested to complete a survey regarding utilization of and attitudes towards IM.

Results

The survey completion rate was 75.5% (n = 331). The respondents' mean age was 48.5 years, and they were primarily white (75%), married (48%), and educated with at least a college degree (58%). The respondents were distributed between the university (74%), VA (15%), and private practice (11%). There was an equal mix of reconstructive (52%) and cosmetic (48%) visits. Overall IM utilization was 80.0%. Integrative medicine use correlated with having a college degree (P = 0.0002) and being middle age (40-64 years, P < 0.005). A higher utilization rate of IM in the private sector (87.0%) compared with the university (76.1%) and VA (71.0%) was not statistically significant (P = 0.17). Similarly, higher IM utilization in cosmetic patients compared with reconstructive patients (81% vs 74%) was not statistically significant (P = 0.56). The majority of patients stated a strong belief in self-healing techniques (71%, P < 0.005), and they desired (61%) that their physician should be familiar with these techniques (P < 0.005).

Conclusions

The IM utilization is highly prevalent among plastic surgery patients regardless of reason for visit (cosmetic versus reconstruction) or practice setting (private versus academic versus VA). Increasing awareness of IM usage and potential impact on outcomes is especially important for academic and VA plastic surgeons. Moreover, an opportunity exists to study how certain aspects of IM can positively impact plastic surgery care.

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