Complementary and alternative medicine use in self-management of diabetes: a study of patient and user conversations in online forums

Abdulaziz Saud S Alzahrani, Sheila Greenfield, Vibhu Paudyal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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An important part of diabetes self-management includes discussing and seeking informal advice from others.

This study aimed to explore beliefs and experiences of patients in relation to their use of CAM in diabetes through the use of data from online patient forum discussions.

Google search engine was used to identify relevant web-based online discussion forums in English language focussing on CAM use (including herbal and other unorthodox therapies) in diabetes and posted by either patients or carers. No date limit was imposed. A qualitative content analysis was adopted for analysis.

Twenty-two online forums containing 77 threads with 1156 posts and replies were identified. Seven major themes emerged from the data analysis including: patient beliefs regarding CAM use, perceived effectiveness and safety of CAM, evidence base and information seeking. Patients used online forums to seek information about the benefits, side effects and share positive and negative experiences of CAM use. Feeling stressed, frustrated or overwhelmed with diabetes and prescribed medications was often linked to their decisions to use CAM. They described that healthcare professionals were often unaware or unable to help in regards to their queries around CAMs.

Patients with diabetes use online forums to share information regarding CAM use. There is a scope for professional societies, patient charities and health systems to offer such online platforms to promote rationale use of CAM, provide evidence-based information to patients and alleviate fears and concerns around diabetes and prescribed medicines.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Journal International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
Early online date22 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Sept 2022


  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Online forums


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