Objectives: The aim of the present study was to assess the prevalence and patterns of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among pediatric patients with gastrointestinal (GI) disorders at academic clinics in Canada.
Methods: The survey was carried out at 2 hospital-based gastroenterology clinics: the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton and the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa.
Results: CAM use at the Stollery was 83% compared with 36% at CHEO (P < 0.001). The most common reason for not using CAM was lack of knowledge about it. Most respondents felt comfortable discussing CAM in their clinic and wanted more information on CAM. The most common CAM products being taken were multivitamins (91%), calcium (35%), vitamin C (32%), probiotics (14%), and fish oil/omega-3 fatty acids (13%). The most common CAM practices being used were massage (43%), chiropractic (27%), faith healing (25%), and relaxation (18%). Most respondents believed that CAM was helpful, and most of the 23 reported adverse effects were minor. Seven were reported as moderate, and 3 were reported as severe. Many (42%) patients used CAM at the same time as prescription medicines, and of these patients, concurrent use was discussed with their physician (76%) or pharmacist (52%).
Conclusions: CAM use is high among pediatric patients with GI disorders and is much greater among those in Edmonton than in Ottawa. Most respondents reported their CAM use as helpful, with little or no associated harm. Many patients fail to disclose their concurrent use of CAM and conventional medicines to their doctors, increasing the likelihood of interactions.