Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Chronically Ill Adolescents from 2 German Birth Cohorts

Salvatore Italia*, Irene Brueske, Joachim Heinrich, Dietrich Berdel, Andrea von Berg, Irina Lehmann, Marie Standl, Silke Britta Wolfenstetter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Pediatric use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is popular in Europe, and utilization may be even more prevalent in chronically ill children/adolescents. This study's aim is to assess CAM use among adolescents with chronic conditions. Methods: Data on drug utilization (past 4 weeks) and consultation with CAM providers (past year) were collected using a self-administered questionnaire from 4,677 adolescents from the German GINIplus/LISAplus birth cohorts. All reported drugs were classified into therapeutic categories (conventional drugs, homeopathy, herbal drugs, etc.). Additionally, participants were asked to list any chronic diseases (that were parent-reported, physician-verified diagnoses such as allergies, atopic dermatitis, asthma, or other chronic diseases) that they had had over the previous 5 years. Results: Compared with the total sample, drug utilization in general (60.1% vs. 41.1%), homeopathy use (11.1% vs. 8.1%), and consultation with CAM providers (16.9% vs. 10.9%) was significantly more prevalent among chronically ill adolescents. However, chronically ill adolescents used relatively ( proportion of the defined therapeutic category among all drugs used) more conventional drugs than healthy adolescents. Conclusion: Compared with healthy adolescents, CAM use is more prevalent among adolescents with chronic conditions. Nevertheless, CAM may predominantly be used as a complementary treatment option rather than substituting conventional drugs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246–252
JournalForschende Komplementarmedizin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Adolescent
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Homeopathy
  • Phytotherapy
  • Drug utilization
  • Chronic disease

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