Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use and Adherence to Asthma Medications among Latino and Non-Latino White Families

Elizabeth L. McQuaid
David A. Fedele
Sue K. Adams, University of Rhode Island
Daphne Koinis-Mitchell
Jessica Mitchell
Sheryl J. Kopel
Ronald Seifer
Barbara Jandasek
Gregory K. Fritz
Glorisa Canino


Objective: The current study sought to evaluate patterns of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in a sample of Latino and Non-Latino white (NLW) children with asthma, to determine whether parental beliefs about conventional medications and barriers to obtaining these medications were related to CAM use, and to assess whether CAM use was associated with decreased adherence to controller medications. Methods: Participants included 574 families of children with asthma from Non-Latino White, Puerto Rican, and Dominican backgrounds from RI and from Island Puerto Rico. All parents completed a brief checklist of barriers to medication use and an assessment of CAM approaches. A subsample of 259 families had controller medication use monitored objectively for approximately one month by MDILog (fluticasone propionate), TrackCap (montelukast), or dosage counter (fluticasone/salmeterol combination). Results: Prevalence of CAM use was high among Latino families. Perceived barriers to obtaining medication were related to increased CAM use in Puerto Rican families from RI. Elevated medication concerns were positively associated with CAM use among NLW and Island PR families. CAM use was positively related to objective adherence within NLW families, and unrelated in other groups. Conclusions: CAM use is common among Latino families with asthma. Among some families, CAM use may be initiated as a way to cope with barriers to obtaining medication or when parents have concerns about conventional medications. Families who report CAM use do not appear to be substituting CAM for conventional asthma medication.