A new survey examined the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among children and youth with chronic illnesses, including cancer. The purpose of this study was to assess prevalence and patterns of CAM use among pediatric oncology outpatients in two academic clinics in Canada.

Investigators developed a survey of young people, or their parents or guardians, who were patients at two hospitals in Canada. The survey focused on current and previous use of CAM products and practices. Of the 137 families approached, 129 completed the survey.

Among the results:

• Overall CAM use was 60.5 percent percent and was not significantly different between the two hospitals.

• The most commonly reported reason for not using CAM was lack of knowledge about it.

• The most common CAM products ever used were:

– multivitamins, 86.5 percent;

– vitamin C, 43.2 percent;

– cold remedies, 28.4 percent;

– teething remedies, 27.5 percent; and

– calcium, 23.0 percent

• The most common CAM practices ever used were:

– faith healing, 51.0 percent;

– massage, 46.8 percent;

– chiropractic, 27.7 percent; and

– and relaxation, 25.5 percent

40.8 percent of patients used CAM products at the same time as prescription drugs. The researchers concluded, “CAM use was high among patients at two academic pediatric oncology clinics. Although most respondents felt that their CAM use was helpful, many were not discussing it with their physicians.”

The survey was published in the journal “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.”