Attitudes and practices of complementary and alternative medicine among adolescents in Saudi Arabia

Glob J Health Sci. 2014 Aug 22;7(1):173-9. doi: 10.5539/gjhs.v7n1p173.


The aim of this study was to investigate the attitudes and use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among Saudi Arabian adolescents. A multistage stratified sampling method was used to select 736 adolescents (358 males, 378 females) aged 15-19 years from secondary schools. The study was carried out in Al-Khobar city, Eastern region of Saudi Arabia. The findings revealed that the use of CAM by adolescents in their lifetime ranged from 1.6% for acupuncture to 58.6% for honey treatment, with significant differences between genders, except in the use of dietary supplements, black cumin, and acupuncture therapies. Females were more likely to use CAM for treating abdominal pains, cold and flu, and cough than males (P < 0.000). Family members and friends (67.7%) were the main source of CAM usage, followed by television (10%), and Internet (8%). Religious and medicinal herb healers were the CAM healers most commonly visited by adolescents. Nearly 21-43% of adolescents had positive attitudes toward CAM, with some significant differences between males and females. It can be concluded that CAM is widely used by Saudi adolescents, but caution should be exercised for the safe usage of some CAM treatments. CAM should not be ignored; however there is an urgent need to establish regulations for CAM usage.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Surveys and Questionnaires