Use of complementary and alternative medicine among adults with chronic diseases: United States 2002

J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Oct;12(8):805-12. doi: 10.1089/acm.2006.12.805.


Background: Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has increased in recent years.

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the use of CAM among people with diagnosed chronic diseases.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis was used.

Setting: The 2002 National Health Interview Survey was the setting.

Patients: Participants were representative of the noninstitutionalized U.S. population 18 years and older.

Measurements: Respondents answered questions about use of CAM and physician-diagnosed arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and lung disease.

Results: Adults with diagnosed chronic diseases are more likely to use CAM compared to adults with none of the reported chronic diseases. Adults with arthritis alone were most likely to report ever use of CAM (59.6%) followed by adults with cancer or lung disease alone or two or more chronic diseases (55%), adults with cardiovascular disease (46.4%), and adults with no chronic diseases (43.6%) and diabetes alone (41.4%). Adults with chronic diseases were also more likely to report use of CAM in the past 12 months (32% to 43.3%), followed by adults with none of these chronic diseases (32%), and adults with diabetes alone (26.2%). Less than 30% of CAM users in the past 12 months reported talking to their healthcare professional about CAM use.

Limitations: Information about CAM use is based on self-report.

Conclusions: Use of CAM, particularly biologically based CAM therapies, is common and is more likely to be used by those with chronic diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis / therapy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy
  • Chronic Disease / therapy
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology