Use of complementary and alternative medicine by patients with cluster headache: Results of a multi-centre headache clinic survey

Paolo Rossi, Paola Torelli, Cherubino Di Lorenzo, Grazia Sances, Gian Camillo Manzoni, Cristina Tassorelli, Giuseppe Nappi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To evaluate the rates, pattern, satisfaction with, and presence of predictors of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in a clinical population of patients with cluster headache (CH). Design and setting: One hundred CH patients attending one of three headache clinics were asked to undergo a physician-administered structured interview designed to gather information on CAM use. Results: Past use of CAM therapies was reported by 29% of the patients surveyed, with 10% having used CAM in the previous year. Only 8% of the therapies used were perceived as effective, while a partial effectiveness was reported in 28% of CAM treatments. The most common source of recommendation of CAM was a friend or relative (54%). Approximately 62% of CAM users had not informed their medical doctors of their CAM use. The most common reason for deciding to try a CAM therapy was that it offered a "potential improvement of headache" (44.8%). Univariate analysis showed that CAM users had a higher income, had a higher lifetime number of conventional medical doctor visits, had consulted more headache specialists, had a higher number of CH attacks per year, and had a significantly higher proportion of chronic CH versus episodic CH. A binary logistic regression analysis was performed and two variables remained as significant predictors of CAM use: income level (OR = 5.7, CI = 1.6-9.1, p = 0.01), and number of attacks per year (OR = 3.08, CI = 1.64-6.7, p <0.0001). Conclusion: Our findings suggest that CH patients, in their need of and quest for care, seek and explore both conventional and CAM approaches, even though only a very small minority finds them very satisfactory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-227
Number of pages8
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008


  • Cluster headache
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Health care use
  • Integrative medicine
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Medicine(all)
  • Nursing(all)


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