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Predictors Associated with Use of Complementary/Alternative Medicine in Men with HIV


The use of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) is prevalent among patients with HIV infection, with estimates ranging from 15% to 88%. Some of the most common forms of CAM are prayer, spiritual activities, and meditation, which can be used to reduce symptoms, strengthen coping abilities, and exert political resistance against Western medicine. Despite its widespread use, questions remain about the factors associated with CAM practices. This study sought to describe the types, frequency, and intensity of CAM use among men living with HIV infection, and to identify the predictors of CAM use and intensity. Using data from two previously conducted HIV studies, investigators focused on men with HIV infection who lived in two distinctly different geographic locations - southern California (n=75) and northern Florida/southern Georgia (n=226). CAM use was defined in this study as holistic practices that included vitamins and/or supplements not generally provided by traditional Western medicine. All men in this study were originally recruited by clinicians who provided care in both VA and community-based clinics.

Findings show that the majority of men with HIV infection (69%) in this study reported some CAM use. The most frequently cited types of CAM use were drug or dietary supplements (71%) and spiritual therapies (66%). CAM use was almost three times higher in California compared to Florida/Georgia, and was also greater in those men who reported depression or more health-promoting behaviors. The odds of CAM use intensity increased with greater symptom frequency and more health-promoting behaviors. In addition, vitamins, dietary supplements, and herbs were used by the majority of men in this study. The authors suggest that high levels of CAM use among men with HIV infection should alert healthcare providers to assess CAM use and to incorporate CAM-related patient education into their clinical practices.

PubMed Logo Bormann J, Uphold C, and Maynard C. Predictors of Complementary/Alternative Medicine Use and Intensity of Use Among Men with HIV Infection from Two Geographic Areas in the United States. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care Nov-Dec 2009;20(6):468-480.

This study was partly funded by HSR&D. Dr. Uphold is part of HSR&D's Rehabilitation Outcomes Research Center for Veterans with Neurological Impairment in Gainesville, FL.

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What are HSR&D Publication Briefs?

HSR&D requires notification by HSR&D-funded investigators about all articles accepted for publication. These journal articles are reviewed by HSR&D and publication briefs or summaries are written for a select number of articles that are then forwarded to VHA Central Office leadership to keep them informed about important findings or information. Articles to be summarized are selected by HSR&D based on timeliness of the findings, interest of leadership, or potential impact on the organization. Publication briefs are written for only a small number of HSR&D published articles. Visit the HSR&D citations database for a complete listing of HSR&D articles and presentations.