Use of complementary and alternative medicine among USA adults with functional limitations: for treatment or general use?

Catherine A Okoro, Guixiang Zhao, Chaoyang Li, Lina S Balluz
Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2011, 19 (4): 208-15

OBJECTIVES: This study compared the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to treat health conditions with CAM use for general wellness or disease prevention among USA adults with and without functional limitations.

DESIGN: This was a cross-sectional survey.

METHODS: Data were obtained from the 2007 U.S. National Health Interview Survey (n=20,710).

RESULTS: Overall use of CAM treatment was higher among adults with functional limitations than among those without (61.4% versus 41.8%; p<0.001). Adults with functional limitations were more likely to use 3 of 4 CAM groupings: biologically based therapies (BBT) (47.9% versus 29.5%, p<0.001), manipulative and body-based therapies (73.7% versus 54.1%, p<0.001), and mind-body therapies (MBT) (39.3% versus 17.4%, p<0.001). Use of alternative medical systems for treatment was highly prevalent among adults (86.9% versus 80.0%, p=0.06), regardless of functional status. Adults with functional limitations were as likely to use CAM to treat the condition underlying their functioning difficulty (48.7%) as they were to treat other conditions (51.3%). Massage therapy was used most often to treat conditions that limited functional ability (53.4%). Older age was a predictor of the use of BBT for treatment, whereas younger age was a predictor of the use of MBT.

CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of CAM use for treatment of conditions is high. Public health strategies are needed to promote disclosure of CAM use to health care providers, promote increased screening for CAM use by health care providers, and promote health care interactions that facilitate communication about CAM safety and efficacy.

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