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Open Access Research article

Prevalence and determinants of complementary and alternative medicine use among infertile patients in Lebanon: a cross sectional study

Ghina S Ghazeeri1, Johnny T Awwad1, Mohamad Alameddine2, Zeina MH Younes3 and Farah Naja34*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American University of Beirut Medical Center Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon

2 Department of Health Management and Policy, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon

3 Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon

4 Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS), American University of Beirut, P.O.Box 11–0236, Riad El Solh, 11072020, Beirut, Lebanon

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Citation and License

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:129  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-129

Published: 20 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is widely used for the treatment of infertility. While the Middle East and North Africa region has been shown to house one of the fastest growing markets of CAM products in the world, research describing the use of CAM therapies among Middle-Eastern infertile patients is minimal. The aim of this study is to examine the prevalence, characteristics and determinants of CAM use among infertile patients in Lebanon.

Methods

A cross sectional survey design was used to carry out face-to-face interviews with 213 consecutive patients attending the Assisted Reproductive Unit at a major academic medical center in Beirut. The questionnaire comprised three sections: socio-demographic and lifestyle characteristics, infertility-related aspects and information on CAM use. The main outcome measure was the use of CAM modalities for infertility treatment. Determinants of CAM use were assessed through the logistic regression method.

Results

Overall, 41% of interviewed patients reported using a CAM modality at least once for their infertility. There was a differential by gender in the most commonly used CAM therapies; where males mostly used functional foods (e.g. honey & nuts) (82.9%) while females mostly relied on spiritual healing/prayer (56.5%). Factors associated with CAM use were higher household income (OR: 0.305, 95% CI: 0.132–0.703) and sex, with females using less CAM than males (OR: 0.12, 95% CI: 0.051–0.278). The older patients were diagnosed with infertility, the lower the odds of CAM use (p for trend <0.05). Almost half of the participants (48%) were advised on CAM use by their friends, and only 13% reported CAM use to their physician.

Conclusions

The considerably high use of CAM modalities among Lebanese infertile patients, added to a poor CAM use disclosure to physicians, underscore the need to integrate CAM into the education and training of health professionals, as well as enhance infertile patients' awareness on safe use of CAM products.

Keywords:
Complementary and alternative medicine; Infertility; Lebanon