Prevalence, predictors, and perceived effectiveness of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine in adult-onset primary dystonia


Background: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) use is on the rise in both the US and Europe, despite questions about its safety and effectiveness, and lack of national standards. We aimed to determine the prevalence and predictors of CAM and integrative medicine use (CAM-I) and perceived effectiveness compared to the standard treatment of botulinum toxin injections in patients with adult-onset primary dystonia. Methods: This was a retrospective questionnaire study of 389 dystonia patients examining the effects age, gender, education level and number of affected anatomical regions on botulinum toxin and CAM-I use and their perceived effectiveness. Results: 53% (208) of patients reported CAM-I use, while 90% (349) used the standard treatment (botulinum toxin), and 48% used both. Education was the only significant predictor of CAM-I use - individuals with bachelor's degrees were more likely to try CAM-I whereas those with high school diplomas were less likely. The mean effectiveness rate for botulinum toxin injections (59%) significantly exceeded that for CAM-I (28%, p < 0.0001). Conclusions: Our work highlights the need for scientifically sound studies to determine the safety, effectiveness and expense of CAM-I treatments for dystonia and other neurological disorders given that CAM-I use is steadily increasing, there is great variability in what is classified as CAM-I, and the effectiveness of some modalities may be significantly less than conventional medical treatments. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Publication Title

Parkinsonism and Related Disorders