Disclosure and adverse effects of complementary and alternative medicine used by hospitalized patients in the North East of England

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Nusirat Bello
Win Winit-Watjana
Wasim Baqir
Kenneth McGarry



Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the prevalence, disclosure and adverse effects of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in hospitalised patients, and to explore the associations between patients’ perceived side-effects and relevant factors.

Methods: Patients who were admitted to a district general hospital and met the eligibility criteria were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. Their medications and pertinent details were verified from the medical notes. All quantitative and qualitative data were collated and analysed. A chi-squared test was performed to test the associations of the perceived CAM side-effects with the significance level determined at α=0.05.

Results: A total of 240 in-patients completed the study. They were mostly white British (98.8%). The prevalence of CAM use within two years was 74.6% and one month 37.9%. Only 19 of 91 patients (20.9%) using CAM within one month disclosed their current CAM applications. Nearly half of patients (45.8%) who used CAM within two years experienced various CAM side-effects that tended to resolve after discontinuation. Slightly more than half (57.6%) perceived CAM side-effects and their perceptions were significantly associated with gender (P=0.048) and consideration for future CAM use (P=0.033). Potential interactions between herbal remedies/dietary supplements and prescribed drugs, such as garlic with lisinopril or aspirin, were assessed in 82 patients (45.8%).

Conclusion: Most in-patients used CAM and experienced some adverse effects. The disclosure of CAM use and its adverse outcomes should be encouraged by healthcare professionals.

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