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Background: Coping with chronic illnesses often involves major lifestyle changes that may lead to poor mental health. Furthermore, in order to treat the chronic conditions, many sufferers in Asia turn to traditional, complementary and alternative medicines (TCAM). This study explores prevalence of TCAM use and factors associated with anxiety and depressive symptoms among patients with chronic diseases in Cambodia.

Methods: In 2015, this cross-sectional study was conducted with outpatients receiving treatment and care for chronic diseases in two urban and two rural primary health centers. Every eligible patient was randomly selected at the health centers using a systematic sampling procedure. Symptoms of anxiety and depression were assessed by using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Multivariate logistic regression models were constructed to explore factors associated with anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Results: The study participants included 1528 patients, of whom 77.2% were female, with a mean age of 46.5 years (SD = 15.3). After adjustment, patients with depressive symptoms remained significantly more likely to be in the age groups between 41 and 60 years old and to be married, separated/divorced or widowed compared to those without depressive symptoms. Regarding the use of TCAM, patients with depressive symptoms remained significantly more likely to report using an herbalist, practicing visualization and praying for own health, but less likely to report using vitamins or supplements in the past 12 months. For quality of life, patients with depressive symptoms remained significantly less likely to agree that they had enough energy for their everyday life and had enough money to meet their daily needs. Similar risk factors were also found to be significantly associated with anxiety symptoms.

Conclusions: Cambodian patients with chronic diseases who experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression were more likely to report reduced quality of life, greater chronic disease-related stigma and more TCAM use. Given the potential interaction of TCAM, mental health and other chronic conditions, a history of TCAM use and mental health should be elicited in clinical practices in primary health care settings, particularly in developing countries.

Publisher's Statement

Originally published in International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 111 [Article 58]. Licensed under CC BY 4.0. The original material can be found here.



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