Use of complementary and alternative medicine by patients with chronic tension-type headache: Results of a headache clinic survey

Paolo Rossi, Giorgio Di Lorenzo, Jessica Faroni, Maria G. Malpezzi, Francesco Cesarino, Giuseppe Nappi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives. - This study was undertaken to evaluate the rates, pattern, and presence of predictors of complementary and alternative medicine use in a clinical population of patients with chronic tension-type headache. Background. - The use of complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment of headaches is a growing phenomenon about which little is known. Methods. - A total of 110 chronic tension-type headache patients attending a headache clinic participated in a physician-administered structured interview designed to gather information on complementary and alternative medicine use. Results. - Past use of complementary and alternative therapies was reported by 40% of the patients surveyed (22.7% in the previous year). Chronic tension-type headache patients prefer complementary and alternative practitioner-administered physical treatments to self-treatments, the most frequently used being chiropractic (21.9%), acupuncture (17.8%), and massage (17.8%). Only 41.1% of the patients perceived complementary and alternative therapies to be beneficial. The most common source of recommendation of complementary and alternative medicine was a friend or relative (41.1%). Most of the chronic tension-type headache patients used complementary and alternative treatment as a specific intervention for their headache (77.3%). Almost 60% of complementary and alternative medicine users had not informed their medical doctors of their use of complementary and alternative medicine. The most common reasons given for choosing to use a complementary or alternative therapy was the "potential improvement of headache" it offered (45.4%). The patients who had used more complementary and alternative treatments were found to be those recording a higher lifetime number of visits to conventional medical doctors, those with a comorbid psychiatric disorder, those enjoying a higher (household) income, and those who had never tried a preventive pharmacological treatment. Conclusions. - Our findings suggest that headache-clinic chronic tension-type headache patients, in their need of and quest for care, seek and explore both conventional and complementary and alternative therapies, even if only 41.1% of them perceived complementary treatments as effective. Physicians should be made aware of this patient-driven change in the medical climate in order to prevent misuse of health care resources and to be better equipped to meet patients' care requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-631
Number of pages10
JournalHeadache
Volume46
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006

Keywords

  • Chronic tension-type headache
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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