Complementary and alternative medicine in rural communities: current research and future directions

J Rural Health. 2012 Jan;28(1):101-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.2010.00348.x. Epub 2010 Nov 15.


CONTEXTS: The consumption of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in rural areas is a significant contemporary health care issue. An understanding of CAM use in rural health can provide a new perspective on health beliefs and practice as well as on some of the core service delivery issues facing rural health care generally.

Purpose: This article presents the first review and synthesis of research findings on CAM use and practice in rural communities.

Methods: A comprehensive search of literature from 1998 to 2010 in CINAHL, MEDLINE, AMED, and CSA Illumina (social sciences) was conducted. The search was confined to peer-reviewed articles published in English reporting empirical research findings on the use or practice of CAM in rural settings.

Findings: Research findings are grouped and examined according to 3 key themes: "prevalence of CAM use and practice,""user profile and trends of CAM consumption," and "potential drivers and barriers to CAM use and practice."

Conclusions: Evidence from recent research illustrates the substantial prevalence and complexity of CAM use in rural regions. A number of potential gaps in our understanding of CAM use and practice in rural settings are also identified.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Complementary Therapies / trends
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States