Factors Influencing Parents' Decision to Use Complementary and Alternative (CAM) Therapies in Children with Chronic Conditions




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Introduction/Background: Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or CAM, therapies are defined as treatments, or therapies, outside of conventional medical practices, some of which have a basis outside of traditional Western practices and are often used in children with chronic conditions. Studies have found that patients, or caregivers of patients, do not always inform their doctors when they are using a CAM therapy, with this disconnect sometimes leading to interference in their treatment plan and possibly becoming a complicating factor. Therefore, it is important to understand the factors that influence a caregiver to use CAM therapies in order to bridge the gap in knowledge linking various factors to CAM therapy usage. Methods: Participants were recruited from the UNTHSC Health Pavilion Pediatrics and Family Medicine Clinics, as well as from various social media platforms. Data was collected through a survey questionnaire that 50 total eligible participants filled out. Participants answered questions regarding their CAM therapy usage, or their willingness to. They additionally answered questions about sociodemographic factors, their child's condition, and possible physician discussion of CAM therapies. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics comparing CAM therapy usage to the variables mentioned previously. Results: Type of chronic condition was not associated with an increase in CAM therapy usage. 83.3% of participants whose child's condition was more severe reported having used CAM therapies while 76.9% of participants whose child's condition was less severe reported having used CAM therapies. Sociodemographic factors such as child race/ethnicity (p= 0.412), caregiver race/ethnicity (p=0.236), caregiver education level (p=0.180), caregiver marital status (p= 1.000), caregiver employment status (p=0.575), and reliable form of transportation (unable to perform test) were not associated with CAM therapy usage. Physician discussion of the following CAM therapies were associated with an increased usage, or willingness to use those CAM therapies: Botanical drugs/natural product drugs (p=0.032), breathing and relaxation techniques (0.009), dietary supplements (0.002), and psychotherapy (0.040). Conclusion: There was a trend possibly associating CAM therapy usage and severity; however, statistical tests were unable to be performed and prevented statistically backed conclusions to be made. Physician discussion of certain CAM therapies is associated with an increase in participants using those CAM therapies, or being willing to use them. Further studies with larger sample sizes gathered from more diverse recruitment sites are needed to better explore these relationships and possible factors that may influence a caregiver to use CAM therapies for their child with a chronic condition(s).