Background: Complementary and alternative medicine has recently attracted attention due to its widespread use. In a recent study in Israel, almost a half of CAM users in the general population used it for joint diseases or back pain.
Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of CAM use among patients with defined rheumatic diseases, and analyze the demographic features of CAM users, their reasons for using CAM and the use of specific CAM methods.
Methods: We conducted face-to-face structured interviews of 350 patients attending rheumatology clinics, regarding past or present use of CAM, specifying the various CAM types they used, and reasons for using CAM. Demographic data including age, gender, country of birth and origin, and level of education were also collected.
Results: Altogether, 148 patients reported using CAM (42%). In general, homeopathy and acupuncture were the most commonly used types (44% and 41% of the patients, respectively). The mean number of CAM methods per patient was 1.9 +/- 1.1. CAM was more commonly used by patients with advanced education (52% vs. 37% of patients with lower education, P= 0.007). Patients with rheumatoid arthritis used CAM significantly less than patients with other rheumatologic conditions (32% vs. 48%, P= 0.008).
Conclusion: CAM use is influenced by level of education. The choice of the preferred CAM method among patients with rheumatic diseases seemed to follow the popular CAM methods in the general population, and was not specific to rheumatic diseases.