Provider-based complementary and alternative medicine use among three chronic illness groups: associations with psychosocial factors and concurrent use of conventional health-care services

Complement Ther Med. 2008 Apr;16(2):73-80. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2007.03.006. Epub 2007 Jun 6.


Objective: The focus of this study was to examine the patterns of provider-based complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use across three chronic illness groups, and to identify the socio-demographic, health-related, and psychosocial factors associated with CAM use.

Design: Cross-sectional international survey administered on the Internet to individuals with arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and mixed chronic conditions.

Main outcome measures: Self-reported consultations to CAM providers and to a variety of conventional health-care services made in the previous 6 months.

Results: 365 surveys were received from people with arthritis (N=140), IBD (N=110), and other chronic conditions (N=115). Overall 38.1% of respondents had used CAM, with rates ranging from 31.8 to 46.1% across the three illness groups. Backward step-wise logistic regression revealed that being female, having more than high school education, a greater number of comorbid conditions, higher perceived control over health and reward motivations, lower stress and less belief that health is governed by chance, were the best predictors of CAM consultations. CAM clients also used a greater variety of conventional health-care services and made more consultations relative to non-CAM clients.

Conclusions: In this study the socio-demographic and health status factors associated with CAM consultations in three different chronic illness groups were similar to those found in the general population. CAM use in the study population was also related to higher use and a greater variety of use of conventional health-care services, and with stronger beliefs in the controllability of health and an enduring motivation to seek out rewards.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Comorbidity
  • Complementary Therapies / psychology*
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors