Factors associated with the use of complementary and alternative medicine for Korean patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Minkyung Han, Yoon Kyoung Sung, Soo Kyung Cho, Dam Kim, Soyoung Won, Chan Bum Choi, So Young Bang, Hoon Suk Cha, Jung Yoon Choe, Won Tae Chung, Seung Jae Hong, Jae Bum Jun, Young Ok Jung, Seong Kyu Kim, Tae Hwan Kim, Eunmi Koh, Hye Soon Lee, Jisoo Lee, Joo Hyun Lee, Shin Seok LeeSeong Su Nah, Seung Cheol Shim, Dae Hyun Yoo, Wan Hee Yoo, Bo Young Yoon, Sun Ha Jee, Sang Cheol Bae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that is often painful and debilitating. Patients with RA are increasingly receiving complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). We aimed to identify the patient characteristics and disease-specific factors associated with Korean patients with RA who decide to start treatment with CAM. Methods. Among the total 5371 patients with RA in the KORean Observational study Network for Arthritis (KORONA), 2175 patients who had no experience with CAM were included in our study. In our study, we assessed the frequency of new incident CAM use, its patterns, and the predictive factors of new CAM use. Results. Of the 2175 patients, 229 patients (10.5%) newly started receiving CAM within a year of enrolling in the cohort. Of those who started treatment with CAM, 17.0% received only herbal medicine, 54.6% only acupuncture treatments (7.0% used a combination of both), and 21.4% "Other" (e.g., physical therapy and placental extract injections). Women (OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.13-3.14) and patients with depression (OR 3.52, 95% CI 1.65-7.50) were significantly more likely to be treated with CAM. Regarding household types, patients who lived in an extended family (OR 1.78, 95% CI 1.08-2.95) or as part of a couple (OR 1.55, 95% CI 1.07-2.24) were more likely to be treated with CAM than patients living in a nuclear family. Conclusion. Our study found, within a year, an incidence rate of 10.5% for new CAM use among patients with no previous experience with CAM. Sex, depression, and household type were significantly associated with new CAM use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2075-2081
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
The Journal of Rheumatology Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved.


  • Complementary and alternative medicine Sex
  • Depression
  • Household
  • Rheumatoid arthritis


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