Is the use of alternative therapy in children just another form of medicalisation? A prospective study

Giovanna Ventura, Elena Battistuz, Francesca Posocco, Francesca Cossovel, Sergio Ghirardo, Egidio Barbi, Giorgio Cozzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: The use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) seems widespread in adults and children, despite the conflicting evidence regarding its effectiveness and safety. This study aims to investigate the prevalence of the use of CAM in a population of Italian children. Methods: This is a prospective observational study conducted in 4 family paediatric clinics, in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy, from February to June 2019. Children were enrolled after being visited. The use of CAM and essential therapies (ET) in the previous year was investigated with an anonymous questionnaire. The demographic characteristics of children and families were also collected. Results: Six hundred children were enrolled, mean age 5.8 years, 50% females. In the previous year, 358 (60%) children used both essential therapies and CAM, 209 children (35%) only essential therapies, 25 (4%) only CAM, and 8 (1%) no therapy. CAM was more frequently used in children whose parents have a higher educational level and come from high-income countries (P <.0001). Non-vaccinated children received more CAM than vaccinated ones (P <.003). Conclusion: In our population, more than 60% of children receive CAM. The use of this medical approach seems strictly related to the social and cultural status of families.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • children
  • complementary and alternative therapy
  • essential therapy
  • maternal education
  • medicalisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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