A survey of perceptions and practices of complementary alternative medicine among Canadian gastroenterologists

Zane Gallinger, Brian Bressler, Shane M. Devlin, Sophie Plamondon, Geoffrey C. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Despite a high prevalence of complementary alternative medicine (CAM) use among inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients, there is a dearth of information about the attitudes and perceptions of CAM among the gastroenterologists who treat these patients. OBJECTIVE: To characterize the beliefs, perceptions and practices of gastroenterologists toward CAM use in patients with IBD. METHODS: A web-based survey was sent to member gastroenterologists of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology. The survey included multiple-choice and Likert scale questions that queried physician knowledge and perceptions of CAM and their willingness to discuss CAM with patients. RESULTS: Fifty-three per cent of respondents considered themselves to be IBD subspecialists. The majority (86%) of gastroenterologists reported that less than one-half of their patient population had mentioned the use of CAM. Only 8% of physicians reported initiating a conversation about CAM in the majority of their patient encounters. Approximately one-half (51%) of respondents were comfortable with discussing CAM with their patients, with lack of knowledge being cited as the most common reason for discomfort with the topic. Most gastroenterologists (79%) reported no formal education in CAM. While there was uncertainty as to whether CAM interfered with conventional medications, most gastroenterologists believed it could be effective as an adjunct treatment. CONCLUSION: Our findings demonstrate that gastroenterologists were hesitant to initiate discussions about CAM with patients. Nearly one-half were uncomfortable or only somewhat comfortable with the topic, and most may benefit from CAM educational programs. Interestingly, most respondents appeared to be receptive to CAM as adjunct therapy alongside conventional IBD treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-49
Number of pages5
JournalCanadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • CAM
  • Complementary alternative medicine
  • Crohn disease
  • IBD
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Ulcerative colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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