Alternative medicine use high amoung children with chronic conditions

Children who regularly see specialists for chronic medical conditions are also using complementary medicine at a high rate, demonstrates recently published research from the University of Alberta and the University of Ottawa.

About 71 per cent of attending various specialty clinics at the Stollery 's Hospital in Edmonton used alternative medicine, while the rate of use at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa was 42 per cent. Nearly 20 per cent of the families who took part in the study said they never told their physician or about concurrently using prescription and alternative medicine.

Sunita Vohra, a researcher with the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the U of A, was the lead investigator on the study, which was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics. Her co-investigator was W James King from the University of Ottawa.

"The children in this study are often given prescription medicines," says Vohra, a pediatrician who works in the Department of Pediatrics and the School of Public Health at the U of A.

"And many of these children used complementary therapies at the same time or instead of taking prescription medicine. We asked families if they would like to talk about the use of alternative medicine, more than 80 per cent of them said, 'yes, please.'

"Right now, these families are getting information about alternative medicine from friends, family and the Internet, but a key place they should be getting this information from is their doctor or another member of their health-care team, who would know about possible drug interactions with prescription medicines." Vohra said the study "identified a gap in communications" in dealing with pediatric patients and their families.

"It's important to get these conversations going with every patient, especially when you consider it's not widely recognized how common it is for children with chronic illnesses to use alternative medicine," says the Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions scholar.

"We need to make sure these families are comfortable telling their specialists they are taking other therapies," she said. Right now, Vohra and her colleagues at the U of A have developed curricula for undergraduate medical students about the use of alternative medicine by pediatric patients, which is considered innovative and novel. Ensuring medical students receive information about is key because it arms them with more knowledge about potential interactions with prescription medicine, says Vohra.

"Considering parents are saying they want this information, we have an obligation to ensure future physicians have the education and resources they need for these conversations," Vohra says.

Related Stories

Alternative therapies may leave asthmatics gasping

date Nov 30, 2010

Approximately 13 percent of parents turn to alternative therapies to treat their children's asthma, according to a new study from the Université de Montréal. The findings, published recently in the Canadian Respiratory Jo ...

Report: Combination of health goods risky

date Jul 22, 2007

A study in Canada has found the health industry has not adequately recognized the danger of pairing natural health products with prescription medication.

Recommended for you

Obese teens in study less likely to use contraception

date Jul 01, 2015

A study of nearly 1,000 teens found that sexually active obese adolescents were significantly less likely to use contraception than normal weight peers, putting them at higher risk of unintended pregnancy.

Extracurricular sports produce disciplined preteens

date Jul 01, 2015

Regular, structured extracurricular sports seem to help kids develop the discipline they need in order to engage effectively in the classroom, according to a new study led by Linda Pagani of the University ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sinister1811
Jan 14, 2013
That's because alternative medicine claims to treat/cure what conventional medicine doesn't.
Nobody likes feeling like they don't have any hope left. It's a horrible feeling.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.