Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine by Patients with Cluster Headache

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Abstract Objectives:
To evaluate the rates, pattern, satisfaction with, and presence of predictors of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in a clinical population of patients with cluster headache (CH).

Design and setting:
One hundred CH patients attending one of three headache clinics were asked to undergo a physician-administered structured interview designed to gather information on CAM use.

Past use of CAM therapies was reported by 29% of the patients surveyed, with 10% having used CAM in the previous year. Only 8% of the therapies used were perceived as effective, while a partial effectiveness was reported in 28% of CAM treatments. The most common source of recommendation of CAM was a friend or relative (54%). Approximately 62% of CAM users had not informed their medical doctors of their CAM use. The most common reason for deciding to try a CAM therapy was that it offered a ‘‘potential improvement of headache’’ (44.8%). Univariate analysis showed that CAM users had a higher income, had a higher lifetime number of conventional medical doctor visits, had consulted more headache specialists, had a higher number of CH attacks per year, and had a significantly higher proportion of chronic CH versus episodic CH. A binary logistic regression analysis was performed and two variables remained as significant predictors of CAM use: income level (OR = 5.7, CI = 1.6—9.1, p = 0.01), and number of attacks per year (OR = 3.08, CI = 1.64—6.7, p < 0.0001).

Our findings suggest that CH patients, in their need of and quest for care, seek and explore both conventional and CAM approaches, even though only a very small minority finds them very satisfactory
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