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Open Access Open Badges Research article

The use of complementary and alternative medicine by patients with diabetes mellitus in Bahrain: a cross-sectional study

Abeer J Khalaf and David L Whitford*

Author Affiliations

Department of Family & Community Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland - Medical University of Bahrain, PO Box 15503, Busaiteen, Kingdom of Bahrain

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010, 10:35  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-35

Published: 14 July 2010



CAM use is widespread, especially among patients with diabetes. The Gulf States have a high prevalence of diabetes, alongside a long tradition of CAM use. The aim of this study is to establish the prevalence of CAM use among patients with diabetes mellitus in Bahrain and to examine the characteristics of the CAM users.


A questionnaire was developed and administered to a convenience sample of patients with diabetes (n = 402) above the age of 20 attending two hospital diabetes clinics. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and non-parametric tests of association.


63% of responders utilized CAM within the previous 12 months. CAM users were more likely to be female, to have had diabetes for longer and to have complications of their diabetes. 64% of CAM users stated that they had used CAM for managing their diabetic condition, with 46% of these having used it solely for their diabetes. Respondents using CAM to manage their diabetes were more likely to be male, to be using CAM on a daily basis and to have informed their physician of their CAM use.


There is a high rate of CAM use in patients with diabetes attending two hospital diabetes clinics in Bahrain. There is also a high rate of non-disclosure of CAM use to physicians. There is a continuing need for health professionals to be more aware and better trained in order to inform their decision making and communication related to CAM use.