Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

More Than One-Third Of U.S. Adults Use Complementary And Alternative Medicine

Date:
May 28, 2004
Source:
NIH/National Center For Complementary And Alternative Medicine
Summary:
According to a new nationwide government survey, 36 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 years and over use some form of complementary and alternative medicine.

According to a new nationwide government survey*, 36 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 years and over use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM is defined as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. When prayer specifically for health reasons is included in the definition of CAM, the number of U.S. adults using some form of CAM in the past year rises to 62 percent.

Related Articles


"These new findings confirm the extent to which Americans have turned to CAM approaches with the hope that they would help treat and prevent disease and enhance quality of life," said Stephen E. Straus, M.D., Director, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). "The data not only assists us in understanding who is using CAM, what is being used, and why, but also in studying relationships between CAM use and other health characteristics, such chronic health conditions, insurance coverage, and health behaviors."

The survey, administered to over 31,000 representative U.S. adults, was conducted as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Developed by NCCAM and the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the survey included questions on 27 types of CAM therapies commonly used in the United States. These included 10 types of provider-based therapies, such as acupuncture and chiropractic, and 17 other therapies that do not require a provider, such as natural products (herbs or botanical products), special diets, and megavitamin therapy.

Although there have been many surveys of CAM use to date, the various surveys included fewer choices of CAM therapies. In addition, they often surveyed smaller population samples primarily relying on telephone or mail surveys versus in-person interviews used for this survey. Thus, the results from the CAM portion of the NHIS provide the most comprehensive and reliable data to date describing CAM use by the U.S. adult population.

Overall, the survey revealed that CAM use was greater among a variety of population groups, including women; people with higher education; those who had been hospitalized within the past year; and former smokers, compared to current smokers or those who had never smoked. In addition, this was the first survey to yield substantial information on CAM use by minorities. For example, it found that African American adults were more likely than white or Asian adults to use CAM when megavitamin therapy and prayer were included in the definition of CAM.

"We're continuously expanding the health information we collect in this country, including information on the actions people take in dealing with their own health situations," said NCHS Director Edward J. Sondik, Ph.D. "Over the years we've concentrated on traditional medical treatment, but this new collection of CAM data taps into another dimension entirely. What we see is that a sizable percentage of the public puts their personal health into their own hands."

CAM approaches were most often used to treat back pain or problems, colds, neck pain or problems, joint pain or stiffness, and anxiety or depression. However, only about 12 percent of adults sought care from a licensed CAM practitioner, suggesting that most people who use CAM do so without consulting a practitioner. According to the survey, the 10 most commonly used CAM therapies and the approximate percent of U.S. adults using each therapy were:

* Prayer for own health, 43 percent

* Prayer by others for the respondent's health, 24 percent

* Natural products (such as herbs, other botanicals, and enzymes), 19 percent

* Deep breathing exercises, 12 percent Participation in prayer group for own health, 10 percent

* Meditation, 8 percent

* Chiropractic care, 8 percent

* Yoga, 5 percent

* Massage, 5 percent

* Diet-based therapies (such as Atkins, Pritikin, Ornish, and Zone diets), 4 percent.

In addition to gathering data on the use of CAM practices, the survey also sought information about why people use CAM. Key findings indicate that:

* 55 percent of adults said they were most likely to use CAM because they believed that it would help them when combined with conventional medical treatments;

* 50 percent thought CAM would be interesting to try;

* 26 percent used CAM because a conventional medical professional suggested they try it; and

* 13 percent used CAM because they felt that conventional medicine was too expensive.

Interestingly, the survey also found that about 28 percent of adults used CAM because they believed conventional medical treatments would not help them with their health problem; this is in contrast to previous findings that CAM users are not, in general, dissatisfied with conventional medicine. The results of the survey reveal new patterns of CAM use among various population groups and provide a rich source of data for future research. Furthermore, the survey results provide a baseline for future surveys, as it establishes a consistent definition of CAM that can be used to track trends and prevalence of CAM use.

NCCAM, a component of the National Institutes of Health, DHHS, is dedicated to exploring complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, training CAM researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCAM's Clearinghouse toll free at 1-888-644-6226 or visit NCCAM's Web site at nccam.nih.gov.

The NCHS is a component of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NCHS's mission is to provide statistical information that will guide actions and policies to improve the health of the American people. The CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.

###

* Barnes P, Powell-Griner E, McFann K, Nahin R. CDC Advance Data Report #343. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults: United States, 2002. May 27, 2004.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Center For Complementary And Alternative Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH/National Center For Complementary And Alternative Medicine. "More Than One-Third Of U.S. Adults Use Complementary And Alternative Medicine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040527233842.htm>.
NIH/National Center For Complementary And Alternative Medicine. (2004, May 28). More Than One-Third Of U.S. Adults Use Complementary And Alternative Medicine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040527233842.htm
NIH/National Center For Complementary And Alternative Medicine. "More Than One-Third Of U.S. Adults Use Complementary And Alternative Medicine." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040527233842.htm (accessed December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) A wave of flu illnesses has forced some Ohio schools to shut down over the past week. State officials confirmed one pediatric flu-related death, a 15-year-old girl in southern Ohio. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Rural Sierra Leone the Red Cross Battles Ebola

In Rural Sierra Leone the Red Cross Battles Ebola

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) The Red Cross battles the Ebola virus in rural Sierra Leone and its fallout. In one treatment centre in the city of Kenema, the Red Cross also runs a kindergarten. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
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