Neuropsychiatric symptoms and the use of complementary and alternative medicine

PM R. 2013 Jan;5(1):24-31. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2012.06.012. Epub 2012 Oct 24.


Objectives: To assess the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by U.S. adults reporting neuropsychiatric symptoms and whether this prevalence changes based on the number of symptoms reported. Additional objectives include identifying patterns of CAM use, reasons for use, and disclosure of use with conventional providers in U.S. adults with neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Design: Secondary database analysis of a prospective survey.

Participants: A total of 23,393 U.S. adults from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey.

Methods: We compared CAM use between adults with and without neuropsychiatric symptoms. Symptoms included self-reported anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, memory deficits, attention deficits, and excessive sleepiness. CAM use was defined as use of mind-body therapies (eg, meditation), biological therapies (eg, herbs), or manipulation therapies (eg, massage) or alternative medical systems (eg, Ayurveda). Statistical analysis included bivariable comparisons and multivariable logistical regression analyses.

Main outcome measures: The prevalence of CAM use among adults with neuropsychiatric symptoms within the previous 12 months and the comparison of CAM use between those with and without neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Results: Adults with neuropsychiatric symptoms had a greater prevalence of CAM use compared with adults who did not have neuropsychiatric symptoms (43.8% versus 29.7%, P < .001); this prevalence increased with an increasing number of symptoms (trend, P < .001). Differences in the likelihood of CAM use as determined by the number of symptoms persisted after we adjusted for covariates. Twenty percent of patients used CAM because standard treatments were either too expensive or ineffective, and 25% used CAM because it was recommended by a conventional provider. Adults with at least one neuropsychiatric symptom were more likely to disclose the use of CAM to a conventional provider (47.9% versus 39.0%, P < .001).

Conclusion: More than 40% of adults with neuropsychiatric symptoms commonly observed in many diagnoses use CAM; an increasing number of symptoms was associated with an increased likelihood of CAM use.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / rehabilitation
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult