Complementary and alternative medicine used by persons with functional gastrointestinal disorders to alleviate symptom distress

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Abstract

Aim.

The aim of this study was to describe the complementary and alternative medicine methods most commonly used to alleviate symptom distress in persons with functional gastrointestinal disorders.

Background.

People with functional gastrointestinal disorders face many challenges in their everyday lives, and each individual has his/her own way of dealing with this illness. The experience of illness often leads persons with functional gastrointestinal disorders to complementary and alternative medicine as a viable healthcare choice.

Design.

Quantitative and describing design.

Method.

A study-specific complementary and alternative medicine questionnaire was used, including questions about complementary and alternative medicine methods used and the perceived effects of each method. Efficacy assessments for each method were preventive effect, partial symptom relief, total symptom relief or no effect.

Results.

A total of 137 persons with functional gastrointestinal disorders answered the questionnaire, 62% (n = 85) women and 38% (n = 52) men. A total of 28 different complementary and alternative medicine methods were identified and grouped into four categories: nutritional, drug/biological, psychological activity and physical activity. All persons had tried at least one method, and most methods provided partial symptom relief.

Conclusion.

Persons with functional gastrointestinal disorders commonly use complementary and alternative medicine methods to alleviate symptoms. Nurses have a unique opportunity to expand their roles in this group of patients.

Relevance to clinical practice.

Increased knowledge of complementary and alternative medicine practices would enable a more comprehensive patient assessment and a better plan for meaningful interventions that meet the needs of individual patients.

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