Objectives: The study objectives were to identify types of complementary therapy that are most predictive of health outcomes, including functional status, physical health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and mental HRQoL among older adults.
Design: This was a prospective study.
Settings/location: The study comprised computer-assisted interviews conducted in participants' homes.
Subjects: Subjects included 1683 adults aged 55 and older who participated in the 2002 National Health Interview Survey and the 2003 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.
Outcome measures: Functional status, physical HRQoL, and mental HRQoL at 1-year follow-up.
Results: The use of biologically based therapies predicted better functional status, such that users reported less functional impairment than nonusers (p < 0.01), adjusting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, health insurance, household income, and comorbid conditions. Users of manipulative and body-based methods reported less functional impairment (p < 0.05). They also reported better physical and mental health-related quality of life, though these relationships were marginally significant. Other groups of therapies, alternative medical systems, mind-body therapies, and prayer were not predictive of either functional status or HRQoL.
Conclusions: Favorable effects were observed among users of biologically based therapies and users of manipulative and body-based methods. Other types of complementary therapy had no effects on health status over a 1-year follow-up period.