Survey finds natural health products for RA are used by many

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  • A survey found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), especially those with more education, often use natural health products (NHPs) to treat RA, and rheumatologists are trusted as sources of advice about these products.

Why this matters

  • Rheumatologists should be aware of patient's interest in NHPs and provide informed advice.

Study design

  • Cross-sectional survey of consecutive rheumatology patients in 2 Canadian clinics to describe the self-reported use and characteristics linked to NHP use.
  • Patients were queried about diagnosis, demographics, prescribed drugs, and NHPs for joints.
  • Funding: Endowed Chair in Patient Health Management at the University of Alberta.

Key results

  • 1063 responded during an 8-wk study period (mean age, 53 y; 70% female), for a 36% response rate.
  • 1 or more NHPs were used by 36% of respondents.
  • Physicians were the most used source of NHP product recommendations, used by 42% of respondents.
  • Female sex (P=.02), college degree (P=.005), NSAID use (P=.01), and use of other non-RA medications (P=.03) were associated with NHP use.


  • Low response rate.
  • Alberta population may not be representative of other populations.