Open Access Research article

Prevalence and correlates of complementary and alternative medicine use among diabetic patients in Beirut, Lebanon: a cross-sectional study

Farah Naja1, Dana Mousa1, Mohamad Alameddine2*, Hikma Shoaib1, Leila Itani3 and Yara Mourad2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut, Riad El-Solh, Beirut 1107 2020, Lebanon

2 Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Health Management and Policy, American University of Beirut, Riad El-Solh, Beirut 1107 2020, Lebanon

3 Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Beirut Arab University, Riad El-Solh, Beirut 1107 2809, Lebanon

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:185  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-185

Published: 6 June 2014



Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) are increasingly using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies due to difficulty in adhering to the therapeutic regimens and lifestyle changes necessary for disease management. Little is known about the prevalence and mode of CAM use among patients with T2DM in Lebanon.


To assess the prevalence and modes of CAM use among patients with T2DM residing in Beirut, Lebanon.


A cross-sectional survey of T2DM patients was conducted on patients recruited from two major referral centers in Beirut- a public hospital and a private academic medical center. In a face-to-face interview, participants completed a questionnaire comprised of three sections: socio-demographic, diabetes characteristics and types and modes of CAM use. Descriptive statistics, univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were utilized to assess the prevalence and correlates of CAM use, as well as whether the use was complementary or alternative to mainstream medicine. The main outcome in this study, CAM use, was defined as using CAM at least once since diagnosis with T2DM.


A total of 333 T2DM patients completed the survey (response rate: 94.6%). Prevalence of CAM use since diagnosis with the disease was 38%. After adjustment, CAM use was significantly associated with a “married” status, a longer duration of T2DM, the presence of disease complications, and a positive family history of the disease. Folk foods and herbs were the most commonly used CAM followed by natural health products. One in five patients used CAM as alternative to conventional treatment. Only 7% of CAM users disclosed the CAM use to their treating physician. Health care practitioners were the least cited (7%) as influencing the choice of CAM among users.


The use of CAM therapies among T2DM patients in Lebanon is prevalent. Decision makers and care providers must fully understand the potential risks and benefits of CAM therapies to appropriately advise their patients. Attention must be dedicated to educating T2DM patients on the importance of disclosing CAM use to their physicians especially patients with a family history of diabetes, and those who have had the disease for a long time.

Complementary and alternative medicine; Type-two diabetes mellitus; Prevalence; Patient safety; Integration; Policy; Lebanon