Background: Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) is often self-prescribed and used concomitantly with conventional medicines. Population surveys suggest ~70% of Australians use CAM. The prevalence of CAM use in hospital and by people with diabetes is less clear.
Aim: To conduct a point prevalence survey of CAM use by inpatients in a large regional hospital (370 acute beds) and examine a subgroup with diabetes.
Method: Data were collected over two days using a structured, previously validated questionnaire administered by trained data collectors. Demographic, information about diabetes, and CAM use were collected. A medical record audit of people using CAM was conducted to determine concomitant conventional/CAM medicine use and whether CAM was documented.
Findings: One hundred and twenty of 270 eligible patients or parents of children were interviewed (44% response rate). Age range: 1–92 ± 25.24; 52% were males. Fifty-six per cent had used CAM in the past: of these, 79% were currently using CAM. Twenty-two per cent had diabetes, 56% of whom were currently using CAM. All CAM users with diabetes were concomitantly using 1–9 ± 2.18 CAM therapies and between 1–18 ± 5.09 conventional medicines. The most common CAM medicines were vitamins, minerals and fish or krill oil. Most CAM was self-prescribed, some vitamins and minerals were prescribed. CAM was documented in five PWD’s medical records, four of whom were using CAM in hospital. The five PWD using CAM in hospital had informed hospital staff they were using CAM. Six people with diabetes were using aspirin, which could interact with some CAM they were using.
Conclusions: People with diabetes frequently use CAM, including in hospital. Health professionals need to document CAM use in medical records. Combining CAM and conventional medicines increases the risk of adverse events.