Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: A Systematic Review of Prevalence and Evidence

Mark Anthony Ferro 1  and Kathy Nixon Speechley 2
  • 1 Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of Western Ontario
  • 2 Department of Paediatrics, University of Western Ontario

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a chronic condition that affects children. Healthcare for JIA is aimed at symptom management and as a result, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is readily sought. The objective of this manuscript is to provide healthcare professionals and researchers with a comprehensive review of the prevalence of CAM use in JIA, determinants of use, and outcomes associated with various therapies. The implications for future clinical practice and promising areas of investigation will be discussed. An in-depth search was conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE, AMED, and Cochrane Library. Programs from relevant conferences were also searched. Thirty-eight articles were retrieved and 12 were included in the analysis. Eight articles assessed the prevalence of CAM use in JIA, three investigated specific interventions (Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F, relaxation, massage), and one examined reasons for using CAM. Results showed that CAM use is relatively high among JIA patients, but prevalence rates vary due to differences in methodology and definitions of CAM. Most patients use CAM for pain relief. Results from intervention studies are preliminary and should be followed with methodologically rigorous studies. Healthcare professionals should become familiar with CAM so as to provide optimal support and care for children with JIA.

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The Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine focuses on evidence concerning the efficacy and safety of complementary and alternative medical (CAM) whole systems, practices, interventions and natural health products, including herbal medicines.

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