Top Header Menu

The Use Of Complementary And Alternative Medicine In The United States

CAM_smallThe National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Center for Health Statistics (part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) released findings on Americans’ use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The findings are from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an annual in-person survey of Americans regarding their health and illness related experiences. The CAM section gathered information on 23,393 adults aged 18 years or older and 9,417 children aged 17 years and under. Of interest to many of our readers, treatments such as biofeedback, diaphragmatic breathing, hypnosis, meditation, guided imagery, and progressive relaxation are included in the analysis.

About CAM
CAM is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine. Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, and alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. Integrative medicine combines conventional and CAM treatments for which there is evidence of safety and effectiveness. While scientific evidence exists regarding some CAM therapies, for most there are key questions that are yet to be answered through well-designed scientific studies – questions such as whether these therapies are safe and whether they work for the purposes for which they are used. NCCAM’s mission is to explore CAM practices using rigorous scientific methods and build an evidence base for the safety and effectiveness of these practices.

(click to enlarge) CAM therapies included in the 2007 NHIS

(click to enlarge) CAM therapies included in the 2007 NHIS

How Many People Use CAM
In the United States, approximately 38 percent of adults (about 4 in 10) and approximately 12 percent of children (about 1 in 9) are using some form of CAM, shown in figure 1.

Figure 1 (click to enlarge) CAM use by U.S. adults and children

Figure 1 (click to enlarge) CAM use by U.S. adults and children

Who Uses CAM Most
People of all backgrounds use CAM. However, CAM use among adults is greater among women and those with higher levels of education and higher incomes. Figure 2 shows the percentage of people using CAM by age. Figure 3 shows CAM use by race/ethnicity.

Figure 2 (click to enlarge) CAM use by age - 2007

Figure 2 (click to enlarge) CAM use by age - 2007

Figure 3 (click to enlarge) CAM use by race/ethnicity among adults - 2007

Figure 3 (click to enlarge) CAM use by race/ethnicity among adults - 2007

CAM Therapies Used the Most
Nonvitamin, nonmineral natural products are the most commonly used CAM therapy among adults. Use has increased for several therapies, including deep breathing exercises, meditation, assage therapy, and yoga. Figure 4 shows the percentage of people using the most common CAM therapies and therapies with significant increases between 2002 and 2007.

Figure 4 (click to enlarge)10 most common CAM therapies among adults - 2007

Figure 4 (click to enlarge)10 most common CAM therapies among adults - 2007

Figure 5 (click to enlarge) 10 most common natural products among adults

Figure 5 (click to enlarge) 10 most common natural products among adults

Use of Natural Products
The most popular natural products are fish oil/omega 3, glucosamine, echinacea, and flaxseed. Figure 5 ranks the top 10 natural products used among adults in 2007 and 2002 (note that the 2007 survey asked about use in the last 30 days, whereas the 2002 survey asked about use in the last year).

Figure 6 (click to enlarge). Diseases/Conditions for Which CAM Is Most Frequently Used Among Adults

Figure 6 (click to enlarge). Diseases/Conditions for Which CAM Is Most Frequently Used Among Adults

Figure 7 (click to enlarge). 10 Most Common Therapies Among Children

Figure 7 (click to enlarge). 10 Most Common Therapies Among Children

Health Conditions Prompting CAM Use
People use CAM for an array of diseases and conditions. American adults are most likely to use CAM for musculoskeletal problems such as back, neck, or joint pain. The use of CAM therapies for head or chest colds showed a substantial decrease from 2002 to 2007. Figure 6 ranks the top 10 conditions prompting CAM use among adults for 2007 and 2002.

Figure 8 (click to enlarge). Most Common Natural Products Among Children

Figure 8 (click to enlarge). Most Common Natural Products Among Children

CAM Use Among Children
The 2007 NHIS asked selected adult respondents about CAM use by children in their households. Overall, approximately 12 percent of children use some form of CAM. Use is greater among:

  • Children whose parents used CAM (23.9%)
  • Adolescents aged 12-17 (16.4%), compared to younger children
  • White children (12.8%), compared to Hispanic children (7.9%) and black children (5.9%)
  • Children whose parents had higher education levels (more than high school: 14.7%)
  • Children with six or more health conditions (23.8%)
  • Children whose families delayed conventional care because of cost (16.9%)
Figure 9  (click to enlarge) Diseases/Conditions for Which CAM Is Most Frequently Used Among Children

Figure 9 (click to enlarge) Diseases/Conditions for Which CAM Is Most Frequently Used Among Children

Figures 7-9 show survey findings on CAM use by children, including top therapies, natural products, and diseases/conditions.

In short, this data suggests that more and more Americans now rely on Complementary And Alternative Medicine for their health-care needs.

Adapted by CFisher from:
Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin R. CDC National Health Statistics Report #12. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults and Children: United States, 2007. December 2008. Downloaded at nccam.nih.gov/news/camstats.htm

, , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

Proudly hosted by Lightning Base