Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Indicates Alternative Medicine Here To Stay; Complementary And Alternative Medicine Used By Broad Age, Demographic Groups

Date:
August 21, 2001
Source:
Harvard Medical School
Summary:
Will the demand for complementary and alternative medicine fade or is it here to stay? While U.S. medical schools are developing complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) course work, and managed care organizations are providing some coverage for CAM therapies, little data existed to answer this question. Until now. A new study by Harvard Medical School researchers, looking at trends over the past half-century, suggests that CAM is indeed here to stay for the foreseeable future.

BOSTON, MA —- Will the demand for complementary and alternative medicine fade or is it here to stay? While U.S. medical schools are developing complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) course work, and managed care organizations are providing some coverage for CAM therapies, little data existed to answer this question. Until now. A new study by Harvard Medical School researchers, looking at trends over the past half-century, suggests that CAM is indeed here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Related Articles


The study, which appears in the August 21 Annals of Internal Medicine, examined trends in the use of 20 different CAMs, covering everything from acupuncture to yoga, among representative sociodemographic groups across the continental U.S. "The findings really dispel two ideas, namely that complementary and alternative medicine is just a passing fad, and that it is used by one particular segment of society," said Ronald Kessler, Harvard Medical School professor of health care policy, who authored the study through the Harvard Medical School Division of Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies and the Center for Alternative Medicine Research and Education at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The use of alternative treatments was independent of gender, ethnicity, and level of education. Regional trends and city versus rural differences were also absent. Most of the 20 therapies have steadily increased in popularity since the 1960s, with the largest overall growth rate occurring during the transition from the 1960s to the 1970s.

Data compiled from over 2,000 interviews did show a trend towards the use of these therapies in younger respondents; by age 33, 7 out of 10 post-baby boomers (born 1965-79) had used some type of CAM, compared to 5 out of 10 baby boomers (born 1945-64), and 3 out of 10 pre-baby boomers (born before 1945). However, in all age groups the use of CAMs has steadily increased since the 1950s.

Some individuals reported using alternative therapies for many years. Of those respondents who had tried an alternative therapy, almost 50 percent were still using it 11 to 20 years later. This persistence is consistent with findings in a previous study that suggested most CAM therapies are used—at least in part—as preventative measures or as part of a regular fitness program.

While all therapies showed increased usage over the decades, the study yielded interesting insights into the timing of societal adoption of particular therapies. In the 1960s, four particular therapies increased markedly—commercial diet programs, lifestyle diet therapy, megavitamin therapy, and self-help groups. The 1970s showed increased use of biofeedback, energy healing, herbal medicine, and imagery. During the 1980s, massage and naturopathy increased, while yoga decreased in popularity. The 1990s showed particular increased adoption of aromatherapy, energy healing, herbal medicine, massage, and yoga.

The authors caution that while the data indicates that the demand for alternative medicine will continue and may well grow, their analysis cannot predict dramatic events that may tip prevalence patterns in one direction or another.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the John E. Ferzer Institute, the American Society of Actuaries, Friends of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Kenneth J. Germeshausen Foundation, and the J.E. and Z.B. Butler Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard Medical School. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Harvard Medical School. "Study Indicates Alternative Medicine Here To Stay; Complementary And Alternative Medicine Used By Broad Age, Demographic Groups." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010821075950.htm>.
Harvard Medical School. (2001, August 21). Study Indicates Alternative Medicine Here To Stay; Complementary And Alternative Medicine Used By Broad Age, Demographic Groups. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010821075950.htm
Harvard Medical School. "Study Indicates Alternative Medicine Here To Stay; Complementary And Alternative Medicine Used By Broad Age, Demographic Groups." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010821075950.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — A recent test of a prototype Ebola vaccine generated an immune response to the disease in subjects. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins