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Use of complementary treatment by those hospitalised with acute illness
  1. Jeremy Armishaw,
  2. Cameron C Grant
  1. Division of General Paediatrics, Starship Children’s Health, Auckland Healthcare Limited, Department of Paediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Dr C Grant, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1, New Zealand. email: cc.grant{at}


AIM To determine the frequency of use of complementary treatment and measure its impact on clinical outcomes in a hospitalised general paediatric population.

METHODS A population based random sample of children admitted to the general paediatric service at a metropolitan children’s hospital in Auckland, New Zealand from February to July 1998. Children with asthma, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, gastroenteritis, or fever were eligible. Data collected by personal interview with parents and by review of the medical records of these children.

RESULTS 251 of 511 eligible children admitted during the study period were enrolled. Forty four children (18%) had received complementary treatment during the hospitalising illness. Most children (77%) had been seen in primary care before hospitalisation. The proportion that were seen in primary care and the number of primary care visits before hospitalisation did not vary with receipt of complementary treatment. The proportion of children who were prescribed medications before hospitalisation was significantly greater for those who had received complementary treatment compared with those who had not (59%v 39%). There was no significant difference between users and non-users of complementary treatment in the severity of the illness at presentation, investigations performed, treatment administered, or length of inpatient stay.

CONCLUSION A substantial proportion of children hospitalised with acute medical illnesses have received complementary treatment. Alternative health care is used as an adjunct rather than an alternative to conventional health care. Receipt of complementary treatment has no significant effect on clinical outcomes for children hospitalised with common acute medical illnesses.

  • complementary treatment
  • acute medical illness
  • hospitalisation
  • ethnicity

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