PURPOSE: The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is believed to be common in airway disease, but determinants of CAM practices have been understudied.
METHODS: We used data from 2 interviews conducted 2 years apart to assess CAM practices among adults with asthma and/or rhinitis. Baseline data were obtained from 416 adults, of whom 375 (90%) were re-interviewed at follow-up. Airway disease diagnoses among the 375 were: asthma without rhinitis, 55 (15%); asthma with rhinitis, 264 (70%); rhinitis alone, 56 (15%). We analyzed the prospective association between physical health status (SF-12 Physical Component Scale [PCS]) and CAM practices used for breathing or nasal symptoms over the past 12 months.
RESULTS: Frequencies of oral CAM use were: vitamins/minerals, 30%; herbals, 21%; black coffee/tea, 18%; other caffeine self-treatment, 13%; dietary supplements such as garlic or chili pepper, 14%; homeopathy, 8%. In total, 189 individuals (50%; 95% CI 45-55%) used one of the 6 oral CAMs; 86 subjects (23%) used 1 only; 103 (27%) reported 2 or more, including 27 (7%) reporting 4-6 practices. We also studied the use of 6 other CAM therapies (acupuncture, meditation, aroma therapy, massage, chiropractic therapy, yoga). Seventy-four subjects (20%; 95% CI 16-24%) reported such therapies, 59 (80%) of whom also used oral CAMs. In multiple logistic regression, physical health at baseline (mean PCS=45.6±11) was prospectively associated with oral CAM use. Those with poorer health (lower PCS) were more likely to report use of ≥1 oral CAM (OR 1.2 [95% CI 1.02-1.5] per 10-point PCS increment; p=0.03). In the same model, airway disease diagnosis was not a significant predictor of oral CAM use. The relationship to PCS was similar for the other CAM therapies (OR 1.2; 95% CI 1.0-1.6; p=0.05).
CONCLUSION: CAM practices are common, inter-related, and are predicted by self-assessed physical health status.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Taking physical health into account, such practices do not differ among those with asthma, rhinitis, or both conditions.
DISCLOSURE: Paul Blanc, None.