Objective: Little data is available on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in children attending otolaryngology services. We investigated the prevalence and pattern of CAM use among children attending the pediatric otolaryngology department in a tertiary pediatric teaching hospital in Scotland. Design: A cross-sectional survey conducted by administering an anonymous questionnaire to the parents accompanying patients attending the pediatric otolaryngology department. Elective admissions and clinic attendees were included over a 3-month period in 2005/2006. Setting: Academic tertiary care referral centre in North-East Scotland. Patients: Five hundred and fifty-four consecutive patients aged less than 16 years were eligible. The response rate was 59% (n = 327). Main outcome measures: Prevalence of CAM use in children. Secondary measures include types of CAM used, indications for use and communication with family physicians. Results: Based on 327 responses, 93 patients (29%) had ever used CAM, 20% within the last year. Commonly used CAM preparations were cod-liver oil, echinacea, aloe vera, cranberry, primrose oil and herbal vitamin supplements. The popular non-herbal CAM included homeopathy, massage, aromatherapy, chiropractic, yoga and reiki. Nineteen percent used CAM for their admission illness. Sixty-one percent of parents thought that CAM was effective and 65% would recommend it to others. Fifty-one percent of parents stated that the family physician was unaware of CAM use by the child. Conclusions: Despite concerns regarding the efficacy, safety and cost effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine, its use among the pediatric otolaryngology population is more common than many providers may realize. This has implications for all healthcare workers involved in their care
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