Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The use of complementary and alternative medicine in an Irish cohort of people with an iatrogenic hepatitis C infection: Results from a health and lifestyle survey


CAM is used by a high proportion of people with an iatrogenic HCV infection.
CAM use is similar between people with current and resolved HCV infection.
The main CAM service used by people with iatrogenic HCV infection is reflexology.
Key reasons for using CAM; relief from aches and pains/muscles problems and stress.
Further research is required to determine the direct health benefits of CAM.



A cohort of people with iatrogenic HCV infection, current or resolved, in Ireland have access to primary and secondary health care services, including specified complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) services, free of charge.


Information about their pattern of CAM usage and its association with various demographic and lifestyle factors, and current HCV status, was sought as part of a health and lifestyle survey, in order to provide information for health service planning.

Design and methods

The survey was carried out by self-administered postal questionnaire. The level of CAM usage was compared to an age- and sex-matched sample of the general population.


The response was 48% (720/1485). Compared to the general population, the HCV population was significantly more likely to have attended a CAM practitioner (50.1% vs 23.9%, OR 3.2; 95% CI 2.7–3.9). Within the HCV population, multivariate analysis showed that females (OR 3.1; 95% CI 1.9–4.9), those who reported fibromyalgia (OR 2.7; 95% CI 1.8–3.9) and those who reported anxiety (OR 1.4; 95% CI 1.0–2.0) were significantly more likely to have used CAM, and smokers significantly less likely (OR 0.6; 95% CI 0.4–0.8). CAM attendance did not vary by current HCV status. Reflexology, acupuncture and massage were the most commonly used forms of CAM.


This study demonstrates that CAM services are used by a high proportion of people with iatrogenic chronic HCV. A more holistic approach to health care, using a biopsychosocial model framework, may better meet the physical and psychological health needs of this group.


  • Iatrogenic HCV infection;
  • Biopsychosocial model of health;
  • Health and lifestyle survey;
  • Complementary alternative medicine;
  • CAM

Corresponding author at: Barbara Coughlan, UCD School Of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland. Tel.: +353 1 716 6441.