Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among US Adults With Common Neurological Conditions

J Neurol. 2010 Nov;257(11):1822-31. doi: 10.1007/s00415-010-5616-2. Epub 2010 Jun 11.


Our objective was to determine patterns, reasons for, and correlates of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in US adults with common neurological conditions. We compared CAM use between adults with and without common neurological conditions (regular headaches, migraines, back pain with sciatica, strokes, dementia, seizures, or memory loss) using the 2007 National Health Interview Survey of 23,393 sampled US adults. Adults with common neurological conditions used CAM more frequently than those without (44.1 vs. 32.6%, p < 0.0001); differences persisted after adjustment. For each CAM modality, adults with common neurological conditions were more likely to use CAM than those without these conditions. Nearly half of adults with back pain with sciatica, memory loss, and migraines reported use of CAM. Mind/body therapies were used the most; alternative medical systems were used the least. Over 50% of adults with common neurological conditions who used CAM had not discussed their use with their health care provider. Those with neurological conditions used CAM more often than those without because of provider recommendation, or because conventional treatments were perceived ineffective or too costly. Significant correlates of CAM use among adults with common neurological conditions include higher than high school education, anxiety in the prior year, living in the west, being a former smoker, and light alcohol use. CAM is used more frequently among adults with common neurological conditions than those without. More research on the efficacy of CAM use for common neurological conditions is warranted.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / therapy*
  • United States
  • Young Adult