Many patients use alternative therapies. The purpose of this study was to determine the percentage of stroke rehabilitation patients in Saskatchewan using alternative therapies, whether patients found these therapies effective in alleviating stroke-related symptoms, how often those patients who used alternative therapies discuss this fact with their primary care doctor and the main reason why patients might not do so.
Telephone questionnaire surveys were conducted with 117 patients who had suffered a stroke and undergone inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation at Saskatoon City Hospital.
The study revealed that 26.5% of 117 stroke rehabilitation patients visited alternative practitioners at least once or used some form of unconventional therapy. Only 16.1% of patients found that alternative therapy made them feel much better. Of those who used alternative therapy, 61.3% did not discuss this fact with their primary physician. Many of the respondents (47.3%) who did not inform their physician stated that they did not see the necessity of talking about these treatments and 21.1% did not discuss the issue with their physician because they felt that he or she might disapprove of alternative therapies.
A relatively small percentage of stroke patients found alternative therapies beneficial. Doctors should be aware that a significant number of patients will try alternative treatment without discussion with their primary care physician or specialist. The current study suggests that after completing routine questioning, doctors should also ask their patients about their use of alternative therapies and, when appropriate, review issues of safety and efficacy.
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