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Impact of complementary and alternative medicine on the quality of life in inflammatory bowel disease: results from a French national survey

Arbitbol V, Lahmek P, Buisson A, Olympie A, Poupardin C Chaussade S, Lesquorques B, Nahon S. Impact of complementary and alternative medicine on the quality of life in inflammatory bowel disease: results from a French national survey. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. [Epub ahead of print]

BACKGROUND: Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are widely used by patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Few data have been published on the impact of CAM on the quality of life (QOL).

AIMS:

The aim of the study was to describe CAM use in French patients with IBD, identify characteristics associated with CAM use, and assess the impact of CAM on the QOL.

METHODS:

We conducted an internet survey on CAM through the French IBD patient's association website. Patients had to answer a questionnaire (LimeSurvey application) about sociodemography, IBD treatment, CAM type, socioeconomic data, and QOL using the Short IBD Questionnaire (SIBDQ). Patients noted the impact of CAM on their symptoms and on their QOL on a scale of 0-100. CAM users and nonusers were compared by univariate and multivariate analyses.

RESULTS:

A total of 936 IBD patients responded and 767 (82.4%) filled up the whole questionnaire: 503 reported CAM use and 172 had never used. The types of CAM reported were diet-based (30.7%), body-based (25.1%), homeopathic or traditional medicine (19.6%), naturopathy (15.2%), and mind-body medicine (9.1%). The gastroenterologist was aware of CAM use in only 46% of patients. CAM users were more likely to have ulcerative colitis [odds ratio (OR)=1.78, P=0.018], clinical remission (OR=1.42, P=0.06), high level of education (OR=1.51, P=0.02), poor observance (OR=1.81, P=0.017), or to have terminated conventional treatment (OR=2.03, P=0.003). CAM users tend to have higher rates of SIBDQ scores, greater than 50 (OR=1.57, P=0.06). Improvement in symptoms and QOL was reported with all CAM types except mind medicine.

CONCLUSION:

CAM use is widespread among IBD patients. CAM users report improvement in symptoms and QOL, but they tend to stop their conventional treatment. Better information about CAM might improve adherence to conventional treatment.