Variation in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use across racial/ethnic groups and the development of ethnic-specific measures of CAM use

J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Apr;12(3):281-90. doi: 10.1089/acm.2006.12.281.


Objectives: The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is likely to vary among racial/ethnic groups because its use is related to cultural and health beliefs. Understanding patterns of CAM use among ethnic groups could inform clinical practice and the study of CAM use in a diverse population. The authors compared CAM use among Asian-Americans, American Indians, African Americans, Latinos, whites, and other racial/ethnic groups in order to develop ethnic-specific measures of CAM use and explore factors associated with such CAM use across ethnic groups.

Design: A cross-sectional survey of a sample of 9187 adults representative of the California population was performed.

Outcome measures: Ethnic-specific constructs for Asian-Americans, American Indians, African Americans, Latinos, and whites were devised.

Results: The authors identified ethnic-specific CAM modalities for each ethnic group. Demographic and clinical factors associated with use of ethnic-specific CAM differed from the predictors of overall CAM use in the general population and varied by ethnicity.

Conclusions: Patterns of CAM use and ethnic-specific CAM use vary across racial/ethnic groups. Evaluation of CAM use in ethnically diverse populations should recognize ethnic-specific modalities and variation across ethnicity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Asian Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / ethnology*
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires