|By PhD, MSc., Christina Gundgaard Pedersen1, Ph.D. Fellow., MSc., Licenced, Sidsel Bekke-Hansen1, Mikael Thastum1, Kristian Thygesen2, Søren Christensen1, Robert Zachariae1
1Unit for Psycho-social Cancer Research and Health Psychology,Aarhus University & Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark
2The Department of Medicine and Cardiology A, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark
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Limited knowledge exists regarding the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among Danish cardiac patients. While a few studies of cancer patients and healthy population samples have demonstrated a relationship between faith and CAM-use, no studies have examined whether CAM-use is related to a specific conviction within a secular society.
To investigate the prevalence of 12 different CAM therapies within the past year among patients hospitalized with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and to explore if CAM-use was related to a particular faith conviction.
A total of 97 hospitalized ACS patients (70 male; age 28-76) provided questionnaire information as part of the ongoing prospective study: The Cardiac Recovery Study. Use of specific types of CAM within the past year, faith in God, faith in a higher spiritual power, and experienced religious, spiritual, and existential considerations since time of hospitalization were measured as part of the baseline questionnaire.
A total of 31.8% had used CAM within the past year. The types of CAM being used were distributed as follows: Dietary or nutrition supplements (14.8%), massage (8%), nutrition or exercise counselling (6.8%), needle acupuncture (5.7%), herbal medicine (3.4%), reflexology (3.4%), relaxation or yoga (3.4%), meditation (2.3%), hypnosis (2.3%), imagery (1.1%), kinesiology (1.1%), and others (2.3%). Those having used CAM within the past year were more inclined to have faith in a higher spiritual power (χ2=13.21, p=.001). Faith in God, however, was not found to be associated with CAM-use (p=.10). Patients having used CAM within the past year experienced more religious (χ2=4.06, p=.04), spiritual (χ2=8.03, p=.005), and existential (χ2=12.41, p<.001) considerations after hospitalization for a cardiac event when compared to non-users.
The present findings suggest that use of CAM is primarily related to faith in a higher spiritual power and not to faith in a personal God. CAM may be used to comply with needs and considerations associated with a spiritual faith, or spiritual considerations after hospitalization may be influenced by previous CAM-use.