News Briefs

Poor Urban Populations Frequently Use Some Form of CAM, Study Shows

Poor urban populations use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities as commonly as the general population, according to a recent study.

The researchers from the Division of General Internal Medicine in the Department of Medicine at State University of New York at Buffalo looked at all patients with valid appointments for internal medicine resident teaching clinics at two publicly supported centers. Patients were surveyed about current medications and a variety of CAM modalities. Medical records were reviewed for demographic information and to confirm diagnoses, allergies, medications, and any documented adverse effects.

The researchers found that use of CAM was common by 85.4% of patients, including those using some form of diet, exercise, and prayer. A smaller number (32.3%) were currently using alternate health care providers and products; about 5% of the population used six products or more. Use by this primarily poor urban population appeared similar to that in previous reports, with some exceptions, the researchers say. Expensive modalities were less frequently used, whereas use of prayer appears more prevalent.

The results of this study were published in the May 10 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Cranberry Juice May Reduce Risk of Female Urinary Tract Infections

Drinking cranberry juice on a regular basis may help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) in some women, according to a review article in the May 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Cranberries contain two compounds that prevent infection-causing bacteria from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract. Whether provided in juice or tablet form, the contents of the berries have been the subject of clinical study since 1966 in association with urinary tract infections and bacteriuria. The review noted, however, that limitations in many of the studies conducted, such as small size, short duration, or use of a wide variety of cranberry products and dosing levels, make the results difficult to assess and compare.

The group most likely to reap benefits from regular doses of cranberry juice or tablets is sexually active adult women with recurring UTIs, who may experience a 50% drop in infection rates, according to some findings. Cranberry juice’s value in treating already established cases of UTI is unknown, as most studies have focused on its ability to prevent infection.

One-Third of Patients Pray for Health Concerns

A recently published study found that one-third of adults used prayer for health concerns in 1998.

The researchers wanted to determine the prevalence and patterns of use of prayer for health concerns. They conducted a national survey in 1998 of 2,055 patients on the use of prayer. Data also were collected on sociodemographics, use of conventional medicine, and use of complementary and alternative medical therapies. Factors associated with the use of prayer were analyzed using multivariable logistic regression.

The researchers found that 35% of respondents used prayer for health concerns; 75% of these prayed for wellness, and 22% prayed for specific medical conditions. Of those praying for specific medical conditions, 69% found prayer very helpful.

Factors independently associated with increased use of prayer included age older than 33 years; female sex; education beyond high school; and having depression, chronic headaches, back and/or neck pain, digestive problems, or allergies. Only 11% of respondents using prayer discussed it with their physicians.

The results of this study were published in the April 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.