Adolescents' use of complementary and alternative medicine

Ambul Pediatr. Mar-Apr 2002;2(2):104-10. doi: 10.1367/1539-4409(2002)002<0104:auocaa>;2.


Objective: To examine the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in a random sample of adolescents living in Monroe County, New York.

Methods: Questions about use of a variety of CAM therapies in the previous 6 months were asked of adolescents during a random-digit-dial telephone survey.

Results: A total of 54% of the 361 adolescents surveyed had used at least 1 CAM remedy. The most frequently used therapies were massage (13.2%), prayer or faith healing (13.1%), herbs (11.5%), megadose vitamins (10.6%), and special exercises (10.1%). Natural performance enhancers were used by 14.7% of the boys, but less than 1% of the girls (P <.001). Use of health care without parental knowledge, time spent in school clubs, and perceived parental use and friend use of CAM were all associated with CAM use in a logistic regression model.

Conclusion: More than half of the adolescents in this county use CAM therapies, and a significant number use pharmacologically active substances. Physicians treating adolescents should ask adolescents about CAM use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • United States