Use of alternative therapies among emergency department patients

Ann Emerg Med. 2000 Mar;35(3):226-8. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(00)70072-2.


Study objective: To assess emergency department patients' use of alternative therapies.

Methods: This study used a cross-sectional observational survey of a convenience sample of ED patients. A trained research assistant administered a written questionnaire asking patients about alternative therapies.

Results: Of the 139 patients surveyed, 78 (56%) had tried alternative therapies in the past, 68 (87%) of whom believed that they were effective. The most frequently tried alternative therapies were massage therapy (31%), chiropractic (30%), herbs (24%), meditation (19%), and acupuncture (15%). Most patients (70%) who tried alternative therapies did not inform their physicians of such practice.

Conclusion: Most ED patients in our sample had tried alternative therapies and among these patients, most did not inform their physicians. Herbal therapy in particular had been tried by about 1 in 4 patients. Emergency physicians should routinely question their patients regarding the use of alternative therapies, particularly herbal preparations, which may cause adverse effects.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires