The use of complementary and alternative health care practices among children

J Pediatr Health Care. Mar-Apr 2003;17(2):58-63. doi: 10.1067/mph.2003.29.


Introduction: The purposes of this descriptive study were to: (a) describe the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices for children as reported by their parents, and (b) to develop a CAM screening tool.

Method: A convenience sample of 191 parents was obtained from 3 primary care settings within a midwestern, metropolitan area. The questionnaire consisted of: (a) seven screening questions, (b) a list of specific CAM therapies used by children and by parents, (c) six open-ended questions about sick child care, and (d) a demographic section.

Results: Thirty-three percent of parents reported using CAM for their child within the past year, most commonly citing infant massage, massage therapy, vitamin therapy, and botanical products. Analysis revealed that White parents who used CAM for themselves and had children school-age and older were significantly more likely to provide CAM for their child. Chi-square analyses between the responses to selected screening questions and use of CAM were statistically (P =.001) significant but identified only 24% of the parents who used CAM for their children.

Discussion: Pediatric nurses should ask parents and children about CAM use in an open manner that promotes discussion. Further refinement of the screening tool is needed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude to Health
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child Care / methods*
  • Child Care / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Midwestern United States
  • Nursing Assessment / methods
  • Parents / education
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Pediatric Nursing / methods
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Health