Rheumatology International

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 337–351 | Cite as

A critical review of complementary and alternative medicine use among people with arthritis: a focus upon prevalence, cost, user profiles, motivation, decision-making, perceived benefits and communication

Review on Health Services


A critical review of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among people with arthritis was conducted focusing upon prevalence and profile of CAM users as well as their motivation, decision-making, perceived benefits and communication with healthcare providers. A comprehensive search of peer-reviewed literature published from 2008 to 2015 was undertaken via CINAHL, Medline and AMED databases. The initial search identified 4331 articles, of which 49 articles met selection criteria. The review shows a high prevalence of CAM use (often multiple types and concurrent to conventional medical care) among those with arthritis which is not restricted to any particular geographic or social-economic status. A large proportion of arthritis sufferers using CAM consider these medicines to be somewhat or very effective but almost half do not inform their healthcare provider about their CAM use. It is suggested that rheumatologists and others providing health care for patients with arthritis should be cognizant of the high prevalence of CAM use and the challenges associated with possible concurrent use of CAM and conventional medicine among their patients.


Alternative therapies Arthritis Complementary and alternative medicine Complementary therapies Osteoarthritis Rheumatic arthritis 



The work of Lu Yang for this study was supported by University of Technology, Sydney–China Scholarship Council International Research Scholarship (CSC No. 201408200026).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Lu Yang, David Sibbritt and Jon Adams declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This critical review article did not involve the authors undertaking any primary data collection/fieldwork. We (all authors) declare no conflicts of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Research Center in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), Faculty of HealthUniversity of Technology SydneyUltimoAustralia

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