Objective. Alternative medicine (AM) is of growing interest to the general public. Although several studies have been published concerning its use in adults, the use by children is less well known. The purpose of this study is to determine the frequency with which alternative medicine is employed in a pediatric population that also uses conventional medicine. A second goal is to investigate the sociodemographic factors that influence the choice of these forms of therapy.
Methods. Parents of children consulting the general outpatient clinic of a university hospital completed a self-administered questionnaire asking about previous use of AM for themselves or their children.
Results. Based on 1911 completed questionnaires, 208 children (11%) previously consulted one or more AM practitioners. Chiropractic, homeopathy, naturopathy, and acupuncture together accounted for 84% of use. Children who used AM differed significantly from those who only used conventional medicine in that they were older than the nonusers, their mothers were better educated, and their parents also tended to use AM.
Conclusion. The findings indicate that AM is an aspect of child health care that no longer can be ignored. Being aware of these practices will enable physicians to discuss alternative therapies with parents in order to ensure the continuity of essential conventional treatments.
- Received January 17, 1994.
- Accepted April 5, 1994.
- Copyright © 1994 by the American Academy of Pediatrics