Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults with diabetes in the United States

Altern Ther Health Med. Sep-Oct 2006;12(5):16-22.


Objectives: Limited population-based data are available on the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among people with diabetes and the use of these therapies for disease treatment. This analysis compares the prevalence and demographic and health correlates of various CAM therapies among people with and without diabetes and documents the use of these therapies for treatment for diabetes- and non-diabetes-related conditions.

Research design and methods: Data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey with a supplemental section on CAM use were analyzed. Data on overall use and use of CAM modalities in 4 categories were compared by diabetes status and by demographic and health characteristics. CAM use for treatment of any health condition, including diabetes, was compared by diabetes status.

Results: Use of any CAM modality was significantly higher for people with diabetes (72.8% vs. 61.2%, P < .01), which was largely attributed to their greater use of prayer. Female gender, higher education, western US residence, and having at least 2 chronic conditions were associated with higher CAM use in both groups. Variations were observed across groups in the correlation of CAM use with age, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. CAM use for disease treatment was higher among people with diabetes. With the exception of diet-based therapies, most CAM use by people with diabetes was for non-diabetes conditions.

Conclusions: These data further elucidate the nature of CAM use among people with diabetes and stress the need for interaction between providers and diabetes patients on CAM use as a self-management modality.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diabetes Complications / therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology