Background: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is extensively used in patients with allergic diseases worldwide. The purpose of this study was to investigate the actual situation of CAM practice in the treatment of allergic rhinitis.
Methods: We distributed questionnaires to otolaryngologists at 114 facilities in Japan. The subjects who participated in this study included children <16 years of age and adults ≥16 years of age diagnosed with allergic rhinitis by otolaryngologists. The survey was performed in the period from September 2007 to August 2009. Furthermore, we performed the same investigation out of the hospital setting, such as during general health examinations. All questionnaires were returned to Chiba University and analyzed.
Results: The proportions of patients who had ever experimented with CAM in the hospital survey were 7.1% (225/3170) and 19.2% (1416/7363) of children and adults, respectively. Approximately 36.2% of the adult patients thought that the treatments were effective. The main reasons for CAM use were safety, convenience and low price. However, the group who spent more than $1000 on CAM felt more dissatisfaction and anxiety related to treatment at the hospital. The situation of CAM practice was not consistent and was instead influenced by the backgrounds of the subjects.
Conclusions: Many patients who receive CAM report feeling that the effects of treatment provided by hospitals are insufficient and have concerns about the side effects of such treatments. Information regarding standard treatments, as described in the guidelines, should become widely known and diffused, and strong communication with patients should be considered.