The level of complementary and alternative medicine use among U.S adults?

From: Advance Data

Journal rating:
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Study Quality:
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Overall Reliability

Article Quality:
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rating: 75%


  • 31,044 interviews of adults age 18 years and over.


  • A 2002 NHIS questionnaire was administered that asked respondents about their use (ever and during the past 12 months) of 27 different CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) therapies. 


  • The 10 most commonly used CAM therapies during the past 12 months were use of prayer specifically for one’s own health (43.0%), prayer by others for one’s own health (24.4%), natural products (18.9%), deep breathing exercises (11.6%), participation in prayer group for one’s own health (9.6%), meditation (7.6%), chiropractic care (7.5%), yoga (5.1%), massage (5.0%), and diet-based therapies (3.5%).
  • CAM was most often used to treat back pain or back problems, head or chest colds, neck pain or neck problems, joint pain or stiffness, and anxiety or depression.
  • Adults age 18 years or over who used CAM were more likely to do so because they believed that CAM combined with conventional medical treatments would help (54.9%) and/or they thought it would be interesting to try (50.1%). 


  • 62% of adults used some form of CAM therapy during the past 12 months when the definition of CAM therapy included prayer specifically for health reasons.
  • When prayer specifically for health reasons was excluded from the definition, 36% of adults used some form of CAM therapy during the past 12 months. 


Editors Notes

  • Explanations for the growth in CAM use have been proposed, including marketing forces, availability of information on the Internet, the desire of patients to be actively involved with medical decision making, and dissatisfaction with conventional western medicine.