Objective: To investigate the prevalence and predictors of use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by the elderly.
Design: Cross-sectional survey examining patterns of use of complementary therapies in two urban multiethnic populations of older adults.
Setting and subjects: A convenience sample of 421 older participants were interviewed at two sites: a university geriatrics primary care practice and a veterans medical clinic, both in New York City. Subjects were excluded if they did not speak English or if they were moderately cognitively impaired.
Measurement: Use of CAM within the previous year.
Results: Fifty-eight percent (58%) of all subjects surveyed used some form of CAM, and close to 75% at the university practice alone. Use correlated most strongly with female gender (p < 0.0001), greater education (p = 0.0095), thyroid disease (p = 0.0190) and arthritis (p = 0.0251). There was no correlation with income, race, age, or self-perceived health status.
Conclusions: CAM use is highly prevalent in older persons in this study, especially among females and those who are more highly educated.