Background Alternative medicine (AM) is commonly used in the general population and in patients with chronic and malignant diseases. Previous studies have shown that almost a half used it for joint diseases or back pain. One of the most frequently cited reasons for using AM is aiding the management of chronic pain.
Objectives The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of alternative medicine (AM) use among patients with rheumatic diseases followed in a rheumatology clinic at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. The authors analyzed the demographic features of AM users and specific AM methods.
Methods The authors conducted face to face structured interviews of 150 patients attending rheumatology clinic, regarding past or present use of AM, specifying the various AM types they used, epidemiologic data (age, gender), and the associated rheumatic disease were also collected.
Results Data from 150 patients, 68% female, were collected. Eighty four patients (70%) reported using AM. In this population medicinal herbs and prayers were the most commonly used practices (52,5% and 59% of the patients respectively). The mean number of AM methods per patient was 2,0±1,1. AM was equally used by patients with advanced and low educational level (NS). Patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis used more AM than patients with other rheumatic conditions (spondyloarthritis, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis), probably because of the chronic pain associated with arthritis and the aesthetic problems associated to lupus. Acupuncture and homeopathy were used by 27% and 24% respectively. 51% of the AM users were between 18 and 50 yo, 41% were 51yo or older and only 8% of the AM users were younger than 18 yo.
Conclusions Alternative Medicine is used by the majority of the patients attending to our rheumatology clinic. AM use was not influenced by level of education. Medicinal herbs and prayers were the most common practices used by our patients.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared