Background: The extent of use of alternative therapies and the psychosocial variables predictive of their use have not been well defined in liver transplant recipients.
Objective: To determine types of alternative therapies used by liver transplant recipients and to assess psychosocial, behavioral, and quality of life variables associated with the use of alternative therapies in these patients.
Methods: Assessment of types of alternative therapies used, demographic characteristics, satisfaction with social support, coping styles, sense of personal control (mastery), quality of life, and health beliefs in 32 liver transplant recipients.
Results: Overall, 34.4% of the liver transplant recipients used a form of alternative therapy. Herbal products were used by 45% of the alternative therapy users and included milk thistle (silymarin), eclipta, and green beet leaf-all considered "hepatic tonics". Alternative therapy users tended to have greater problem-focused coping skills than nonusers (P = .08). Nineteen percent of the patients incurred annual out-of-pocket expense of at least dollars 100 for alternative therapies. Patients incurring out-of-pocket expenses reported better overall health (P = .02), were more likely to be employed (P = .025), and had higher mastery scores (P = .01).
Conclusions: Use of alternative therapies is common after liver transplantation. Herbal products used by liver transplant recipients are disease specific; that is, they claim to promote liver health.