Open Access Open Badges Research article

Patterns and determinants of the use of complementary and alternative medicine: a cross-sectional study of hypertensive patients in Ghana

Irene A Kretchy12*, Frances Owusu-Daaku1 and Samuel Danquah3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical and Social Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana

2 Department of Pharmacy Practice and Clinical Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana School of Pharmacy, Legon, Ghana

3 Department of Psychology, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:44  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-44

Published: 4 February 2014



The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is widespread and high utilization rates are associated with people who have chronic conditions like hypertension which management requires adherence to conventional treatment. Often however, the use of alternative medicines has been linked to negative health outcomes. The purpose of the study therefore was to evaluate the pattern, determinants and the association between CAM use and the adherence behaviour of hypertensive patients in Ghana.


A cross-sectional study was conducted using 400 hypertensive patients attending Korle-bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals in Ghana from May to July, 2012. Information was gathered on the socio-demographic characteristics of patients, CAM use, and adherence using the 8-item Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (MMAS).


Out of the 400 study participants, 78 (19.5%) reported using CAM with the majority (65.38%) utilizing biological based therapies. About 70% of CAM users had not disclosed their CAM use to their healthcare professionals citing fear and the lack of inquiry by these health professionals as the main reasons for non-disclosure. Males were 2.86 more likely to use CAM than females [odds ratio (OR) = 2.86 (95% CI 1.48 – 5.52), p = 0.002]. Participants who could not afford their medications had 3.85 times likelihood of CAM use than those who could afford their medicines [OR = 3.85 (1.15 – 12.5), p = 0.029]. In addition, a significant relationship between CAM use and experiences of anti-hypertensive side effects was observed, X2 = 25.378, p < 0.0001. CAM users were 2.22 times more likely to be non-adherent than participants who did not use CAM [OR = 2.22 (0.70 – 7.14), p = 0.176].


Hypertensive patients in Ghana have shown utilization for CAM. It is important that healthcare providers understand the patterns and determinants of CAM use among their patients. Intervention programmes can then be incorporated to enhance the desired health outcomes of patients.

Medication adherence; Traditional medicine; Non-adherence; Side effects; Medication affordability