Concomitant use of alternative health products with commonly prescribed medications has been associated with elevated risks of adverse effects.
The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and determinants of the use of alternative health products and psychotropic drugs in the same year for mental health reasons and to examine this for specific psychiatric and physical conditions.
This study used data from the Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health and Well-Being cycle 1.2 carried out by Statistics Canada in 2002 on 36,984 Canadians. Multivariate analyses were carried out to identify determinants of health product use.
Overall, 13% of Canadians reported the use of alternative health products. Among respondents with a psychiatric diagnosis, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes the rate was 20.0%, 12.0%, 12.6% and 9.4% respectively. Use of alternative health products and psychotropic drugs within the same year was reported by 21.3%. Determinants of alternative health product use included older age, female sex, higher education, and mental disorder, the use of cardiovascular drugs, consulting a health care provider for mental health reasons and reporting an unmet mental health need. People with diabetes were less likely to be users.
Concomitant use of alternative health products and psychotropic drugs for mental health reasons are prevalent. This increases the risk for potential drug-herb interactions. Health professionals need to be aware of patient alternative health product use, especially in the presence of co-morbid mental and physical conditions. Public health campaigns aimed towards increasing awareness and education may incite discussions between health professionals and patients on the risks and benefits of these products.