Objectives: To evaluate the relationships between selected sociodemographic factors and the use of particular types of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the general U.S. population. CAMs make up a heterogeneous group of practices. Although it is well established that sociodemographic factors impact the use of conventional medicine, it is unclear which, if any, influence the use of particular types of CAM.
Design: Data from a 1997-1998 nationally representative survey (n = 2055) was examined using descriptive and univariate analyses.
Results: The impact of particular sociodemographic factors was found to vary by type of CAM considered. Whites used more CAM than non-Whites except in the case of prayer. Users of CAM tended to be better educated than nonusers with the exception of prayer, self-prayer, and use of a lay midwife. Women used more CAM than men, especially weight-change diet.
Conclusions: As with conventional medicine use, the patterns of CAM use vary by individual type of therapy considered. Analytically, grouping many heterogeneous practices into the CAM category hides important differences in use patterns.