Saturday, 28 November 2015

Utilization of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among children from a German birth cohort (GINIplus): Patterns, costs, and trends of use

Volume 15, Issue 1, March 10, 2015, Article number 49

Maastricht University, Department of International Health, School for Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI), Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht, Germany
Institute of Health Economics and Health Care Management, Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Neuherberg, Germany
Institute of Epidemiology I, Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Neuherberg, Germany


Background: The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is widespread among children in Germany and other European countries. Only a few studies are available on trends in pediatric CAM use over time. The study's objective was to present updated results for prevalence, predictors, and costs of CAM use among German children and a comparison with findings from a previous follow-up of the same birth cohort. Methods: Data were collected for 3013 children on their utilization of medicinal products (during the last 4 weeks) and consultation with CAM providers (in the preceding year) from a German birth cohort study (GINIplus, 15-year follow-up) using a self-administered questionnaire. The reported medicinal CAMs were classified into six categories (homeopathy, herbal drugs, nutritionals, minerals and trace elements, microorganisms, further CAM). Drug prices were traced using pharmaceutical identification numbers (PZNs), or otherwise conservatively estimated. Finally, the results were compared with data obtained from the 10-year follow-up of the same birth cohort study by adopting the identical methodology. Results: In all, 26% of the reported 2489 drugs were medicinal CAM. The 4-week prevalence for homeopathy and herbal drug use was 7.5% and 5.6%, respectively. Some 13.9% of the children used at least one type of medicinal CAM in the preceding 4 weeks. The 1-year prevalence for consultation with CAM providers was 10.8%. From the drugs identified as CAM, 53.7% were homeopathic remedies, and 30.8% were herbal drugs. Conclusion: CAM use among 15-year-old children in the GINIplus cohort is popular, but decreased noticeably compared with children from the same cohort at the age of 10 years. This is possibly mainly because German health legislation normally covers CAM for children younger than 12 years only. © Italia et al.

Author keywords

CAM; Child; Complementary therapies; Drug utilization; Germany; Homeopathy; Phytotherapy; Socioeconomic factors; Trends

Indexed keywords

EMTREE drug terms: calcium; fluoride; herbaceous agent; iodide; magnesium; selenium; vitamin
EMTREE medical terms: adolescent; adult; alternative medicine; Article; birth weight; Chinese medicine; cohort analysis; comparative study; consultation; controlled study; drug cost; drug packaging; drug utilization; educational status; female; follow up; Germany; homeopathy; human; intestine flora; major clinical study; male; nutritional status; prescription; prevalence; treatment duration; vitamin supplementation