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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Evaluation of prescribing patterns in a German network of CAM physicians for the treatment of patients with hypertension: a prospective observational study

Elke Jeschke1, Thomas Ostermann2*, Horst C Vollmar34, Matthias Kröz1, Angelina Bockelbrink5, Claudia M Witt5, Stefan N Willich5 and Harald Matthes1

Author Affiliations

1 Havelhoehe Research Institute, Kladower Damm 221, 14089 Berlin, Germany

2 Chair for Theory of Medicine, Integrative and Anthroposophic Medicine, University of Witten/Herdecke, Gerhard-Kienle-Weg 4, 58313 Herdecke, Germany

3 Institute for General Practice and Family Medicine, University of Witten/Herdecke, Alfred-Herrhausen-Str 50, 58448 Witten, Germany

4 Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Transfer (ISI), Breslauer Str 48, 76139 Karlsruhe, Germany

5 Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité University Medical Centre, 10117 Berlin, Germany

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BMC Family Practice 2009, 10:78  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-10-78

Published: 10 December 2009



The management of hypertension is a key challenge in modern health systems. This study aimed to investigate hypertension treatment strategies among physicians specialized in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in Germany by analysing prescribing patterns and comparing these to the current treatment guidelines issued by the German Hypertension Society.


In this prospective, multicentre observational study, which included 25 primary care physicians specialized in CAM treatment, prescriptions and diagnoses were analysed for each consecutive hypertensive patient using routine electronic data. Data analysis was performed using univariate statistical tests (Chi square test, Cochran-Armitage trend test). Multiple logistic regression was used to determine factors associated with antihypertensive medication.


In the year 2005, 1320 patients with 3278 prescriptions were included (mean age = 64.2 years (SD = 14.5), 63.5% women). Most patients were treated with conventional antihypertensive monotherapies (n = 838, 63.5%). Beta-blockers were the most commonly prescribed monotherapy (30.7%), followed by ACE inhibitors (24.0%). Combination treatment usually consisted of two antihypertensive drugs administered either as separate agents or as a coformulation. The most common combination was a diuretic plus an ACE inhibitor (31.2% of dual therapies). Patient gender, age, and comorbidities significantly influenced which treatment was prescribed. 187 patients (14.2%) received one or more CAM remedies, most of which were administered in addition to classic monotherapies (n = 104). Men (OR = 0.66; 95% CI: 0.54-0.80) and patients with diabetes (OR = 0.55; 95% CI: 0.42-0.0.73), hypercholesterolaemia (OR = 0.59; 95% CI: 0.47-0.75), obesity (OR = 0.74; 95% CI: 0.57-0.97), stroke (OR = 0.54; 95% CI: 0.40-0.74), or prior myocardial infarction (OR = 0.37; 95% CI: 0.17-0.81) were less likely to receive CAM treatment.


The large majority of antihypertensive treatments prescribed by CAM physicians in the present study complied with the current German Hypertension Society treatment guidelines. Deviations from the guidelines were observed in one of every seven patients receiving some form of CAM treatment.