The view of patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on complementary and alternative medicine
Background: The popularity of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), particularly for chronic diseases such as asthma, is growing rapidly, but little is known about the characteristics of CAM use by patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD). The aim of the present study is to compare the knowledge and preferences of patients with asthma or COPD about CAM, to evaluate the extent, characteristics and possible predictors of CAM use. Methods: A face-to-face interview questionnaire was administered to the patients who attended the Allergic Diseases and Chest Diseases clinics between May 2005-January 2006, and 364 patients answered the questionnaire. Results: 43.1 % (n=90) of the 209 asthmatic patients, and 43.2 % (n=67) of the 155 COPD patients had used some type of CAM previously. The asthmatic patients who have been admitted to the Emergency Room(ER) more frequently tend to use CAM methods (p = 0.03), whereas duration of doctor diagnosis, hospitalizations, admissions to ER and to be educated for diseases have a higher impact on CAM use in COPD patients (p = 0.00, p = 0.00, p = 0.00 and p = 0.04, respectively). The most commonly used forms of CAM were herbal medicines (57.8 % vs. 70.1 %) and quail egg (46.7 % vs. 37.3 %) in patients with asthma and COPD, respectively. The reported frequency of the subjective sense of improvement was higher in asthmatic patients than COPD patients but this difference was insignificant (50.0 % vs.39.4 % ; p = 0.24). Conclusion: Most of the patients with asthma or COPD prefer alternative medicine. CAM use by patients with COPD should be asked about by their doctors, strongly advised about continuing their medicines and about side effects of CAM.