Background: Prevalence estimates of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among persons with asthma vary widely; prior studies reported that patients do not discuss CAM use with their physicians. The authors examined the prevalence and characteristics of CAM use among adults with asthma to prepare physicians to discuss CAM use with their patients.
Methods: CAM use among adults with current asthma was analyzed using the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data from a subset of 25 states that completed the follow-up Asthma Callback Survey. CAM use was defined as a "Yes" response to the use of one or more CAM therapies to control asthma during the previous 12 months. Statistics were calculated using SAS v9.2 Proc Surveyfreq to provide weighted estimates and account for complex sample design.
Results: The prevalence of CAM use among adults with asthma was 39.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 36.9-42.3). There was no significant association with CAM use by sex, race/ethnicity, age, education, or geographic region. After adjusting for demographics and region, CAM use was significantly higher among persons with (1) financial barriers to asthma care (odds ratio [OR] = 2.8, 95% CI = 1.9-4.1); (2) an emergency room (ER) visit due to asthma (OR = 1.7 95% CI = 1.1-2.6); and (3) > or =14 asthma-associated disability days during the previous year (OR = 2.1, 95% CI = 1.4-3.1).
Conclusions: CAM use is common among adults with asthma. It is associated with financial barriers to asthma care and poor asthma control. Physicians should discuss CAM use with their asthma patients.