Complementary Medicine and Psoriasis: Linking the Patient's Outlook With Evidence-Based Medicine

Dermatology. 2003;207(3):302-7. doi: 10.1159/000073094.


Background: There is increasing evidence for the extensive use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by patients with psoriasis. Clinical research in the arena of CAM and psoriasis treatment is evolving and includes some randomized controlled trials.

Objective: To study CAM use among patients with psoriasis attending a dermatology clinic in a major university hospital in northern Israel. Prevalence, reasons for CAM use and its relevance to doctor-patient communication were emphasized.

Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with psoriasis patients in a dermatology clinic. Consent was obtained for 78 patients. Post-visit questionnaires were given to 5 physicians.

Results: Seventy-eight patients with psoriasis were interviewed and 77 were studied. Sixty-two percent used CAM. Fifty-eight percent of users had seen a CAM practitioner. The study found a trend of CAM use among patients with psoriasis from Arab compared to Jewish descent (p=0.087). CAM users reported on average 2 different CAM modalities. Herbal medicine and nutritional treatments ranked first, followed by homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and nutritional supplements. The main reason for CAM use was stated to be to do everything to heal the disease, followed by a quest for improved quality of life. Others mentioned an interest in a less toxic treatment, disappointment with conventional treatment and stress reduction. Well over half of the study participants and their dermatologists did not initiate a discussion about CAM use. The dermatologists' ability to predict CAM use in their patients was relatively low.

Conclusion: There is growing evidence of extensive CAM use among patients with psoriasis. Most patients use CAM as a complementary treatment, rather than an alternative to conventional treatment. Teaching CAM should be integrated into the dermatology residency curriculum. Dermatologists need to increase their awareness of CAM use by their patients in order to improve therapeutic communication.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Prognosis
  • Psoriasis / diagnosis*
  • Psoriasis / therapy*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome