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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 13, Issue 4, Pages 327-332
Original Article

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use by Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease: An Internet Survey

Robert J Hilsden,1 Jon B Meddings,2 and Marja J Verhoef1

1Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
2Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Received 16 June 1998; Accepted 21 October 1998

Copyright © 1999 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVES: To determine the degree and determinants of the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with the use of the Internet and to compare the results with those found by using a similar survey in patients attending gastroenterology clinics in Calgary, Alberta.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: A cross-sectional survey of 263 patients with IBD with the use of a World Wide Web-based, structured questionnaire was conducted.

RESULTS: Complementary therapies had been used by 46% of patients in the previous two years. Current use was reported by 34%. Vitamins, herbal products and natural health practices were the most commonly reported therapies. Side effects and lack of effectiveness of standard therapies were the most commonly cited reasons for seeking complementary medicine. However, despite this, respondents who had previously received surgery, or intravenous or oral steroids were less likely to be current CAM users. Important differences between the determinants of and reasons for CAM use in the present study and those of a similar study of IBD patients in a local tertiary care setting were noted.

CONCLUSIONS: Complementary medicine use is common in patients with IBD. Differences in the determinants of and reasons for CAM use noted between the present Internet sample and a gastroenterology clinic sample suggest that conclusions from the present study and from previous studies based only on clinic samples provide a limited view of CAM use by people with IBD. More comprehensive assessments are needed.