Intest Res.  2020 Apr;18(2):192-199. 10.5217/ir.2019.00115.

Changes in prevalence and perception of complementary and alternative medicine use in Korean inflammatory bowel disease patients: results of an 8-year follow-up survey

  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Surgery, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a global phenomenon, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. We aimed to assess the change in prevalence and patterns of CAM use, and attitudes towards CAM over an 8-year time interval (2006 vs. 2014) among IBD patients in Korea.
A total of 221 IBD patients (CD=142, UC=79) were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding CAM at two time points: at enrollment (2006) and 8 years later (2014/2015).
The proportion of patients ever using CAM increased significantly from 60.2% in 2006 to 79.6% in 2014 (P<0.001), while the proportion of current CAM users increased slightly (35.7% to 38.0%, P=0.635); 21.7% used CAM consistently at both time points. The proportion of patients who felt CAM was less effective (P<0.001) and more expensive (P=0.04) than conventional treatments increased over time. Also, the proportion among ever CAM users who perceived a positive effect from CAM significantly decreased in 2014 compared to 2006 (P=0.004). Higher education (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.10), prior side effects to conventional therapies (aOR, 2.23), and prior use of corticosteroids (aOR, 2.51) were associated with CAM use. Interestingly, use of CAM before IBD diagnosis (aOR, 2.73) was significantly associated with consistent CAM use.
Although the attitudes toward CAM have become less favorable, the majority of IBD patients have experienced CAM with an overall increase of current CAM users over time. Moreover, more than half of current CAM users used CAM consistently over time.


Complementary and alternative medicine; Inflammatory bowel disease; Colitis, ulcerative; Crohn disease
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