Complementary and alternative medicine use among Asian Indians in the United States: a national study

Ranjita Misra, Padmini Balagopal, Maryanna Klatt, Maureen Geraghty
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: Research on Paradigm, Practice, and Policy 2010, 16 (8): 843-52

BACKGROUND: Asian Americans use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) at a higher rate than Americans.

OBJECTIVE: This national study on Asian Indians (AIs), the third largest Asian-American subgroup in the United States, examined the CAM use by gender and its association with acculturation, health behaviors, and access to health care.

DESIGN: This was a cross-sectional survey.

SUBJECTS: The subjects consisted of 1824 AI adults in six states with higher concentration of AIs.

RESULTS: Mean age and years lived in the United States was 45.7 +/- 12.8 and 16.6 +/- 11.1 years, respectively. The respondent majority was male, immigrants, college graduates, and had access to care. Sixty three percent (63%) of AIs used at least one type of CAM; most common was a vegetarian diet, followed by use of dietary and herbal supplements and alternative medical systems. Females reported a significantly higher use of CAM, a vegetarian diet, and use of dietary and herbal supplements than AI males. Older age, female gender, having no access to care, and spirituality predicted CAM use in the logistic regression model. Older age, female gender, unmarried, and higher income was associated with use of dietary and herbal supplements; AIs who reported being vegetarian were more likely to be female, unmarried, spiritual, and self-reported their physical health to be fair or poor.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first national study of CAM use among AIs by gender and selected respondent characteristics. Results provide important information on health behaviors, beliefs, and patterns of CAM use in this ethnic subgroup to be factored into patient education.

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