Use of complementary and alternative medicine and self-tests by coronary heart disease patients

Sheila Greenfield, Helen M. Pattison, Kate Jolly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Coronary heart disease patients have to learn to manage their condition to maximise quality of life and prevent recurrence or deterioration. They may develop their own informal methods of self-management in addition to the advice they receive as part of formal cardiac rehabilitation programmes. This study aimed to explore the use of complementary and alternative medicines and therapies (CAM), self-test kits and attitudes towards health of UK patients one year after referral to cardiac rehabilitation. Method: Questionnaire given to 463 patients attending an assessment clinic for 12 month follow up in four West Midlands hospitals. Results: 91.1% completed a questionnaire. 29.1% of patients used CAM and/or self-test kits for self-management but few (8.9%) used both methods. CAM was more often used for treating other illnesses than for CHD management. Self-test kit use (77.2%,) was more common than CAM (31.7%,) with BP monitors being the most prevalent (80.0%). Patients obtained self-test kits from a wide range of sources, for the most part (89.5%) purchased entirely on their own initiative. Predictors of self-management were post revascularisation status and higher scores on 'holism', 'rejection of authority' and 'individual responsibility'. Predictors of self-test kit use were higher `holism' and 'individual responsibility' scores. Conclusion: Patients are independently using new technologies to monitor their cardiovascular health, a role formerly carried out only by healthcare practitioners. Post-rehabilitation patients reported using CAM for self-management less frequently than they reported using self-test kits. Reports of CAM use were less frequent than in previous surveys of similar patient groups. Automatic assumptions cannot be made by clinicians about which CHD patients are most likely to self-manage. In order to increase trust and compliance it is important for doctors to encourage all CHD patients to disclose their self-management practices and to continue to address this in follow up consultations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number47
Pages (from-to)47
JournalBMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Issue number47
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2008

Bibliographical note

© 2008 Greenfield et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • coronary heart disease
  • complementary medicine
  • alternative medicine
  • complementary therapy
  • alternative therapy
  • self-test kit
  • cardiac rehabilitation


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