There is an increasing interest in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in patients with chronic diseases, including those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Patients may turn to CAM when conventional therapies are inadequate or associated with side effects for symptomatic relief or to regain control over their disease. The objectives were to explore CAM use and perceived effects in IBD patients in comparison with a control group.Methods
A cross-sectional, multicenter, controlled study was carried out. IBD patients were invited from 12 IBD clinics in Sweden. Controls were selected randomly from a residence registry. A study-specific questionnaire was used for data collection.Results
Overall, 48.3% of patients with IBD had used some kind of CAM during the past year compared with 53.5% in controls (P=0.025, adjusted for age, sex, geographic residence, and diet). The most frequently used CAM among IBD patients was massage (21.3%), versus controls (31.4%) (adjusted P=0.0003). The second most used CAM was natural products, 18.7% in IBD patients versus 22.3% of the controls (unadjusted P=0.018). In all, 83.1% of the patients experienced positive effects from CAM and 14.4% experienced negative effects.Conclusion
Overall, 48.3% of Swedish IBD patients used some kind of CAM and controls used CAM significantly more. Natural products were used by one-fifth of the patients and even more by controls. This is notable from a patient safety perspective considering the possible risks of interactions with conventional medication. In all, 40% of the patients reported adverse events from conventional medicine. Patients experienced predominantly positive effects from CAM, and so did controls.