The reasons for using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and the perception of stress in a group of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) who are actively interested in CAM were compared with those of a randomly selected group of IBD patients (controls).
Participants in a national lay workshop on CAM of the German Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis Association (DCCV) (the study group) and a representative sample of the approximately 16,000 members and associates of the DCCV (the control group) were asked to complete a self-administered questionnaire that covered socio-demographic data, past medical history, stress perception, current conventional treatment, and interest in, and usage of, CAM.
One-hundred and twelve (80%) of the approximately 140 participants of the lay workshop and 684 (68.8%) of the 994 IBD patients in the control group completed and returned the questionnaires. The duration of illness, taken as the time since diagnosis, was shorter for the participants of the lay workshop than for the control group (p=0.0035), and fewer workshop patients stated that their disease was currently "in remission" (p=0.0377). The two groups did not differ significantly in their experiences with CAM use. Among personal reasons given for CAM use, the "lack of success of conventional therapy" (p=0.014), the wish "to take a holistic therapeutic approach" (p=0.0008), and "a different point of view from that of my physician about the cause of, and treatment options for, IBD" (p=0.038) were chosen more often in the group of workshop participants than in the control patients. A total of 92% of the workshop patients perceived stress as having a negative effect on their IBD; this is a significantly greater percentage than in the control group (70.5%; p=0.0001).
A group of IBD patients with an active interest in CAM showed distinct differences from a randomly selected group of IBD patients in their reasons for using CAM, particularly in their wish to take a holistic therapeutic approach. Patients who think that stress has a negative effect on their IBD appear to be more likely to use CAM.