Use of Complementary and Alternative Therapies in Traumatic Brain Injured Patients

Monday, July 11, 2011

Meei-Fang Lou, RN, PhD
Department of Nursing, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

Learning Objective 1: 1. understand the use of complementary and alternative therapy for patients with traumatic brain injury.

Learning Objective 2: 2. understand the perceived effectiveness of complementary and alternative therapy for patients with traumatic brain injury.

Purpose:  The use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) continues to increase in Taiwan. The majority of people used at least one type of CAM in Taiwan. The purpose of this study was to understand the use of and the effectiveness of CAM for patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). 

Methods:  A questionnaire survey was used for this study. Data were collected in a special outpatient clinic for TBI patients in a medical center on northern Taiwan. Self-report questionnaire was used for data collection. 

Results: One hundred and one TBI patients participated in this study. Sixty-three percent (n = 64) of patients used at least one type of CAM after injury. Among them, the average type of CAM used was 2.7 with a range of 1 to 12. The most popular type of CAM was Chinese medicine (n = 37), followed by folk medicine (n = 30) and special or organic diet (n = 30). The major reason for using CAM was “as a complementary medicine” (n = 26) and “belief in advantages of CAM” (n = 26). Twenty-six patients used CAM right after injury. The average started time on using CAM was 1.7 months after TBI. Fifty (78.1%) of the users did not discuss the use of CAM with medical doctors. The major reason for not discussing with medical doctor was “not necessary” (90%, n = 45). After using CAM, most patients (n = 54) felt moderate satisfactory level toward the effects. The average expense was 4,500 NT dollars (US$ 135) per month.

Conclusion: Health personnel caring for TBI patients could play a valuable part in assisting patients and caregivers. A coordinated approach to information and advice, and the assessment of risk/benefit and cost effectiveness of CAM use is needed.