Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the General Public of Western Saudi Arabia: A Cross-Sectional Survey

Background: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been continuously used worldwide. Various cultures have used this path of healing, and to our date, people are still using it and some even prefer it to modern medicine. Thus, this study aims to analyze awareness, self-use, perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes toward CAM in the general public of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Methods: A descriptive observational cross-sectional study was conducted in the public places of Jeddah. Data were collected from 784 participants using a self-administered paper-based questionnaire, and statistical analysis was performed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS).

Results: The majority of the population was aware of massage (91.8%), herbs (90.7%), nutritional supplements (89.8%), and prayers (88.1%). With regards to usage and effectiveness, prayers and spirituality is used by 75.5% of the population and considered to be the most effective by 76.0%. Respondents obtained information about CAM mostly from friends and relatives (76.6%), followed by media (67.2%), while lack of knowledge about CAM and lack of trained professionals are the most perceived barriers to CAM implementation. Data showed a significant association (p < 0.05) between gender, awareness, and self-use of CAM modalities. Yoga (44.2%) and herbs (72.6%) were mostly used by females, whereas males were mostly aware of cupping (90.4%) and cauterization (76.2%). Another significant association was found between the level of education, awareness, and self-use of CAM modalities indicating that those who were not educated were aware of and used cauterization the most, while those who went to college were more aware of yoga (75.4%). Lastly, having a relative in the healthcare field showed a significant association with awareness of yoga, prayers, and spirituality compared to other CAM modalities.

Conclusion: In conclusion, the present study revealed that the majority of the Western Saudi Arabian population was aware of several CAM modalities and practiced some form of CAM. However, awareness of specific types of CAM may relate to gender, educational level, and relationship to the medical field.


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the use of traditional or non-conventional medicine to treat certain diseases, especially chronic diseases. CAM includes practices that go along with standard medical care or substitute it completely. “Complementary” medicine can include combining a form of traditional medicine with a conventional one, for example, the use of acupuncture to help lessen some side effects of conventional medical treatment. Alternative medicine entails replacing standard medical care completely with a technique or approach not considered part of conventional medicine [1].

The use of CAM has been continuously growing worldwide among adults and children. In the United States, studies showed that the use of yoga, meditation, and chiropractors had increased approximately from 22% in 2012 to 38% in 2017 among adults, and from 7% to 17% among children during that period [2,3]. One of the hallmarks of CAM is the use of herbs for the treatment and prevention of several diseases. 87% of the counted global population’s diseases are treated by drugs that are plant-based [4]. There is

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