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Utilization and Perception of Integrative Medicine Among Plastic Surgery Patients

Patel, Nirav BS*; Pierson, Justine MS*; Lee, Timothy BS*; Mast, Bruce MD*; Lee, Bernard T. MD; Estores, Irene MD; Singhal, Dhruv MD*

doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000000916

Background Integrative medicine (IM) is currently used by 40% of Americans. Our objective is to examine the prevalence and perception of IM utilization in patients being evaluated for elective plastic surgery.

Methods In July 2014, 402 consecutive patients presenting to plastic surgery clinics at the University of Florida, Veterans Affairs (VA), and Private Practices in Gainesville, Florida were requested to complete a survey regarding utilization of and attitudes towards IM.

Results The survey completion rate was 75.5% (n = 331). The respondents' mean age was 48.5 years, and they were primarily white (75%), married (48%), and educated with at least a college degree (58%). The respondents were distributed between the university (74%), VA (15%), and private practice (11%). There was an equal mix of reconstructive (52%) and cosmetic (48%) visits. Overall IM utilization was 80.0%. Integrative medicine use correlated with having a college degree (P = 0.0002) and being middle age (40-64 years, P < 0.005). A higher utilization rate of IM in the private sector (87.0%) compared with the university (76.1%) and VA (71.0%) was not statistically significant (P = 0.17). Similarly, higher IM utilization in cosmetic patients compared with reconstructive patients (81% vs 74%) was not statistically significant (P = 0.56). The majority of patients stated a strong belief in self-healing techniques (71%, P < 0.005), and they desired (61%) that their physician should be familiar with these techniques (P < 0.005).

Conclusions The IM utilization is highly prevalent among plastic surgery patients regardless of reason for visit (cosmetic versus reconstruction) or practice setting (private versus academic versus VA). Increasing awareness of IM usage and potential impact on outcomes is especially important for academic and VA plastic surgeons. Moreover, an opportunity exists to study how certain aspects of IM can positively impact plastic surgery care.

From the *Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, UF Health, University of Florida School of Medicine, Gainesville, FL; †Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; and ‡Integrative Medicine Program, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, UF Health, University of Florida School of Medicine, Gainesville, FL.

Received February 28, 2016, and accepted for publication, after revision August 22, 2016.

Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: none declared.

Previous Presentation: Southeastern Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (Amelia Island, June, 2015), Poster.

Reprints: Dhruv Singhal, MD, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, PO Box 100138, Gainesville, FL 32610-0138. E-mail:

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