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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2 (2005), Issue 4, Pages 521-527
Original Article

Treatment Expectations for CAM Interventions in Pediatric Chronic Pain Patients and their Parents

1Pediatric Pain Program, Departments of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology and Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, CA, USA
2John C. Liebeskind History of Pain Collection, Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, UCLA, CA, USA
3Division of Child Psychiatry, Departments of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences and Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, CA, USA
4Department of History, UCLA, CA, USA

Received 28 June 2005; Accepted 26 September 2005

Copyright © 2005 Jennie C. I. Tsao et al. 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.


Patient expectations regarding complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) interventions have important implications for treatment adherence, attrition and clinical outcome. Little is known, however, about parent and child treatment expectations regarding CAM approaches for pediatric chronic pain problems. The present study examined ratings of the expected benefits of CAM (i.e. hypnosis, massage, acupuncture, yoga and relaxation) and conventional medicine (i.e. medications, surgery) interventions in 45 children (32 girls; mean age = 13.8 years ± 2.5) and parents (39 mothers) presenting for treatment at a specialty clinic for chronic pediatric pain. Among children, medications and relaxation were expected to be significantly more helpful than the remaining approaches (P < 0.01). However, children expected the three lowest rated interventions, acupuncture, surgery and hypnosis, to be of equal benefit. Results among parents were similar to those found in children but there were fewer significant differences between ratings of the various interventions. Only surgery was expected by parents to be significantly less helpful than the other approaches (P < 0.01). When parent and child perceptions were compared, parents expected hypnosis, acupuncture and yoga, to be more beneficial than did children, whereas children expected surgery to be more helpful than did parents (P < 0.01). Overall, children expected the benefits of CAM to be fairly low with parents' expectations only somewhat more positive. The current findings suggest that educational efforts directed at enhancing treatment expectations regarding CAM, particularly among children with chronic pain, are warranted.