Objectives: To determine the prevalence of and factors associated with use of complementary/alternative therapies (CAM) by pediatric patients seeking primary care.
Design and setting: A self-report questionnaire was administered to parents/caregivers in 6 general pediatric practices in urban and suburban Detroit from August 1999 to December 1999.
Results: A total of 1013 questionnaires were completed; 67.5% of the patients were 5 years of age or younger. The overall use of CAM was 12%. Factors in families associated with use of CAM were maternal age greater than 31 years (P =.001), religious affiliation (P =.001), parent/caretaker born outside of the United States (P =.04), and use of CAM by the parent/caretaker or his/her spouse (P =.001). Significant factors associated with the children who used CAM were age greater than 5 years (P =.001), pediatric visit for an illness (P =.05), regular medication use (P =.001), and having an ongoing medical problem (P =.001). The most common types of CAM used were herbs (41%), prayer healing (37%), high-dose vitamin therapy and other nutritional supplements (34.5%), folk/home remedies (28%), massage therapy (19%), and chiropractic (18%). The majority of CAM users (66%) did not report the use of CAM to their primary care physician. A logistic regression analysis revealed that use of CAM by parents/caretakers was the single best predictor of CAM use in a child.
Conclusion: CAM use is significant among children who visit pediatric practices. Pediatricians should inquire about CAM use among patients, particularly those with ongoing medical problems and those with parents/caretakers who use CAM for themselves.