The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is expanding globally. However, prevalence of its use by patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) remains unclear.
An exploratory, descriptive study was conducted using a questionnaire and interview to describe the use of CAM by patients with CHC attending a liver clinic in the United States.
Eighty percent (n = 120) had used CAM in the last 12 months, most often prayer for health reasons (63%), multivitamins (56%) and herbal medicine (25%). A higher level of education (p < 0.005), poorer health status (p < 0.002) and prior use of anti-viral therapy (p < 0.02) were predictors of CAM use. Participants used CAM to promote general health, but herbal medicine was used to treat CHC symptoms and prevent liver disease.
Use of CAM is common among patients with CHC. Failure to acknowledge the use of CAM as a management strategy may restrict the health provider's ability to provide optimal care.