Complementary medicine use and its cost in Australians with type 2 diabetes: The Fremantle Diabetes Study Phase II

Tatsiana Yarash, Imrana Sharif, Farhat Masood, Rhonda M Clifford, Wendy Davis, Timothy M E Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Few studies have examined complementary medicine (CM) use in diabetes. Australian data are inconsistent, limited in scope and have not considered cost.

AIMS: To evaluate the prevalence, associates and costs of CMs in a contemporary Australian urban, community-based cohort of people with type 2 diabetes.

METHODS: Baseline CM use was determined as part of a detailed assessment in 1,543 of 1,551 FDS2 participants with type 2 diabetes (mean age 65.7 years, 51.8% males, median diabetes duration 9.0 years) recruited to the Fremantle Diabetes Study Phase II (FDS2) between 2008 and 2011 who self-reported medication use including CMs defined as non-prescription medicinal products.

RESULTS: 672 FDS2 type 2 participants (43.6%) used at least one type of CM, 92% of which were nutritional supplements (omega-3 fatty acids/fish oil in 24% of CM users followed by calcium in 11%, glucosamine in 10%, and others in <10%). Independent associates of CM use included older age, female sex, any mobility problem, and, inversely, Southern European or Indigenous Australian background, lack of English fluency, ex-/current smoking status, taking oral glucose-lowering medications, and higher HbA1c . The total annual estimated cost of CM used by FDS2 participants with type 2 diabetes was A$121,640 or A$79±208 per person (range A$0-2,993). Extrapolating these data, the 1 million Australians with type 2 diabetes spend A$79 million/year on CMs.

CONCLUSIONS: CM use in type 2 diabetes is both common and costly. Healthcare professionals should consider discussing safe and cost-effective use of CM with their patients with type 2 diabetes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)944-950
Number of pages7
JournalInternal Medicine Journal
Issue number8
Early online date17 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


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