Background: With an increasing proportion of Americans using complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), physicians need to know which patients are using CAM to effectively manage care.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, telephone interviews were conducted with 1,584 South Carolina adults (ages 18 and older); 66% responded to the survey of demographics, general health, frequency of CAM use, perceived CAM effectiveness, and physician knowledge of CAM use.
Results: A total of 44% had used a CAM during the past year. Increasing age and higher education were significantly associated with CAM use. More than 60% perceived CAM therapy as very effective, and 89% said they would recommend CAM to others. Physicians were unaware of CAM use in 57% of their patients using CAM.
Conclusion: Complementary or alternative medicine use in this rural Southern state is similar to national usage. Users view CAM as effective. Physicians are frequently unaware of patients' CAM use. More research is needed to establish CAM effectiveness and how CAM affects medical care, training, and public health.