Complementary and alternative medicine use by patients with inflammatory bowel disease: results from a postal survey

Gastroenterol Clin Biol. 2006 Jan;30(1):14-23. doi: 10.1016/s0399-8320(06)73072-x.


Aims: Thirty to 50% of north American patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have been reported to use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). There is no data in France. The aim of this study was to evaluate the frequency of CAM use and the reasons in a French population of patients with IBD.

Patients and methods: An anonymous postal survey was done with a questionnaire mailed to all the patients with IBD, 16 to 79 year-old, followed-up in a public and a private medical centre of Reims, between January 2001 and December 2003.

Results: The final sample included 447 patients; 325 (72.7%) filled up the questionnaire: 219 (67.4%) had Crohn's disease, 94 (28.8%) ulcerative colitis and 12 (3.7%) indeterminate colitis. Sixty-nine patients (21.2%) reported CAM use for IBD. The mean number of CAM used simultaneously was 2.9. The most frequently used CAM treatment was homeopathy (40.6%), followed by magnetism (34.8%) and acupuncture (33.3%). The majority of patients (74.8%) never talked about CAM use with their IBD physician. Multivariate analysis showed that the factors significantly associated with CAM use were female gender (odds ratio (OR)=3.5, CI95%: 1.8-6.9), the low level of confidence in their doctor (OR=4.8, CI95%: 1.1-19.8) and the research of informations about their disease (OR=4.6, CI 95%: 2.0-10.7).

Conclusion: Twenty-one percent of patients with IBD are using CAM, most of the time without talking about it with their physician. The quality of the relationship between the patient and his physician and female sex, more than the perceived severity of the disease, were the main determinants of that use.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • France
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors