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Original Article

IJMDC. 2021; 5(2): 710-717

Multiple sclerosis patients’ perception of traditional and complementary medicine

Awad Alharbi, Isra Alghamdi, Shahad Alruwaili, Ghaida Alghamdi, Alanoud Alkhalifah.

Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disabling and progressive neurological disease. Some patients find the conventional treatment disappointing and tend to seek salvation in traditional and complementary medicine (T & CM), hoping for better outcomes. This study aims to assess the prevalence of T & CM use among MS patients, understand its perception and misconceptions among MS patients, and assess the level of awareness regarding its use among MS patients.
Methods: A cross-sectional study targeting MS patients in Saudi Arabia was conducted from January 2020 to November 2020. A total of 164 MS patients participated. Electronic self-administered questionnaires collected the data through social media.
Results: More than half of the MS patients reported using conventional treatment (71.3%), 14.6% of the MS patients used a combination of both conventional and T & CM, only 3.7% used T & CM alone, while 10% reported taking no treatment. However, 32.9% of patients had used T & CM at some point, with the majority (53.7%) using them in the first 5 years after diagnosis. Patients using conventional treatment (65.2%) were more satisfied than patients using traditional treatment (48.1%).
Conclusion: MS patients in Saudi Arabia were more satisfied with conventional treatment methods; thus, only 32.9% had used T & CM since they were diagnosed with MS. Diet, vitamin supplements, and herbal treatments were the most used options T & CM. However, patients reported a lack of guidance by T & CM providers compared to conventional treatment providers. Therefore, T & CM providers need to guide MS patients regarding their treatment regimen better and provide better support for patients who may consider seeking other treatment modalities.

Key words: MS, multiple sclerosis, traditional medicine, complementary medicine, perception

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