Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults with work-related and non-work-related asthma

J Asthma. 2012 Feb;49(1):107-13. doi: 10.3109/02770903.2011.637597. Epub 2011 Nov 30.


Background: The prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among adults with current asthma has been estimated to be 40%. To our knowledge, there is no information on the prevalence of CAM use among individuals with work-related asthma (WRA).

Objectives: To examine the associations between WRA, CAM use, and adverse asthma events.

Methods: We analyzed data from the 2006-2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Asthma Call-Back Survey from 37 states and the District of Columbia for ever-employed adults with current asthma. We defined WRA as health-professional-diagnosed WRA. We calculated prevalence ratios (PRs) adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income, health insurance, and geographic region of residence.

Results: Of ever-employed adults with current asthma, an estimated 38.1% used CAM and 8.6% had WRA. An estimated 56.6% of individuals with WRA reported using CAM compared with 27.9% of those with non-WRA (PR = 2.0). People with WRA were more likely than those with non-WRA to have adverse asthma events including an asthma attack in the past month (PR = 1.43), urgent treatment for worsening asthma (PR = 1.74), emergency room visit (PR = 1.95), overnight hospital stay (PR = 2.49), and poorly controlled asthma (PR = 1.27). The associations of WRA with adverse asthma events remained after stratifying for CAM use.

Conclusions: Compared with non-WRA, individuals with WRA were more likely to use CAM to control their asthma. However, there was no evidence that the use of CAM modified the association of WRA with adverse asthma events.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Cohort Studies
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / therapy*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Distribution
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult