Factors associated with herbal medicine use among adults diagnosed with hepatitis attending Mulago National Referral Hospital, Kampala Uganda
Nsibirwa, Sara Kay
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Background: There is some evidence that patients with liver disease commonly use complementary and alternative therapies to address general and liver-disease specific health concerns. Objectives: To assess the factors associated with the use of herbal medicine among adults diagnosed with hepatitis attending Mulago National Referral Hospital, in order to generate evidence to inform management of Hepatitis in Uganda. Methods: A hospital-based cross-sectional study was conducted on 310 patients attending the gastrointestinal clinic in Mulago hospital. Data on prevalence, types and reasons for herbal medicine use was collected using standardized questionnaires and focus group discussions. Modified Poisson regression analyses were used to examine factors related to use. Results: Overall, 46 % (146/310) of the participants indicated they had used herbal remedies within the last 12 months while 56%(174/310) reported a lifetime exposure to herbal medicine. Herbal remedies were used to treat various health conditions including hepatitis. Patients who had been diagnosed with hepatitis up to one year before the study (PRR 0.69, p 0.03) and those who had attained at least a primary level education (PRR 0.81, p<0.001) were less likely to use herbal medicine. Patients with hepatitis C infection (PRR 1.16, p 0.02) and those who believed that it was safe to use herbal and conventional therapies concurrently were more likely to use herbal medicine (PRR 1.23, p 0.008). Conclusion: Herbal medicine among patients with hepatitis was used for a variety of health conditions. Usage was influenced by the belief that herbal medicine is safe and effective. Given that 13% (40/310) of hepatitis patients reported use of conventional and herbal therapies concurrently, health workers need to actively and consistently obtain information about herbal remedy use to effectively advise patients and monitor outcomes. More research is needed on outcomes in patients who use herbal remedies to treat primary liver conditions.