Practices and attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicine in inflammatory bowel disease: A survey of gastroenterologists

Zane R. Gallinger, Geoffrey C. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasingly prevalent among patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We sought to characterize the practices and attitudes of IBD physician providers toward CAM. Methods: A web-based survey was sent to non-trainee physician members of the American Gastroenterological Association with an interest in IBD. The survey included multiple-choice and Likert scale questions which queried physician perceptions of CAM and their willingness to discuss CAM with patients. Results: The vast majority of respondents (80%) considered themselves IBD subspecialists with 75% holding academic appointments. Nearly a third reported initiating conversations on CAM in the majority of their patient interactions, while 90% perceived that a majority of their patients were reluctant to bring up the topic of CAM. Nearly three quarters (72%) of respondents felt comfortable discussing CAM, while those that did not most frequently cited lack of knowledge as the reason. More than half (55%) stated they had no systematic approach to discussing CAM. Most gastroenterologists (65%) reported no formal training in CAM. Most gastroenterologists had recommended use of probiotics, and nearly half had recommended acupuncture. A vast majority believed that there was adjunctive role for CAM in treatment of IBD. Conclusions: Academic IBD specialists were receptive to the use of CAM, and most felt that it had a role in the treatment of IBD, without necessarily compromising conventional therapy. Formal educational initiatives and societal recommendations on the use of CAM may facilitate a more systematic approach to its use in daily practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-303
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • complementary and alternative medicine
  • Crohn's disease
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • ulcerative colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

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