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Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Among Pediatric Ophthalmology Patients in San Diego, California

Sarah M Hilkert, Naz Askari, Jan D Hirsch, Shira L Robbins


Objectives:   Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has become increasingly common in pediatrics.  While previous studies have evaluated pediatric CAM use across various subspecialties, estimates regarding pediatric CAM use in ophthalmology are lacking. This study explores CAM use among pediatric ophthalmology patients in a pediatric ophthalmology practice.

Methods:  609 self-report questionnaires were distributed to parents whose children were seen at the University of California, San Diego / Ratner Children’s Eye Center between July 2009 and January 2010.  The survey included questions regarding demographic information of the parent, eye condition of the child, and CAM use by the child. The two main outcomes were CAM use in the past and preference for CAM use in the future. 

Results:  126 surveys were included in the final analysis.  Overall, 11% of parents reported previous CAM use for their child’s eye condition, and 44% of parents indicated a preference for CAM use for their child’s eye condition, depending on the side effects.  Logistic regression revealed that past CAM use was not associated with the parent’s race, gender, or level of education.  However, CAM preference was negatively associated with the parent’s level of education (p = 0.045). 

Discussion:   As with other pediatric subspecialties, treatment of children with CAM is common in pediatric ophthalmology.  Given the significant number of parents who reported using CAM and/or a preference for CAM, our results emphasize the need for all pharmacists, ophthalmologists, and pediatricians to discuss CAM use with patients and their families. 


Complementary and Alternative Medicine, paediatric ophthalmology, person-centered healthcare, prevalence of CAM use

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