Characteristics and health perceptions of complementary and alternative medicine users in the United States

Am J Med Sci. 2015 Feb;349(2):140-4. doi: 10.1097/MAJ.0000000000000363.


Background: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use has been increasing and these unconventional therapies do have important adverse effects. We evaluated predictors of CAM use among U.S. adults.

Methods: We analyzed the 2007 Health Information National Trends Survey (n=7503) and used logistic regression models to evaluate the association of demographic, lifestyle characteristics and healthcare perceptions of respondents who used CAM within the previous 12 months (n=1980) versus those who did not (n=5523). We used survey weights in all analyses and performed variance estimations using Taylor series linearization to account for the complex survey design.

Results: Females (odds ratio [OR]=1.46; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.15-1.86), college graduates (OR=1.61; 95% CI: 1.24-2.08) and those who considered the quality of their healthcare to be poor (OR=2.16; 95% CI: 1.28-3.65) were more likely to use CAM, whereas blacks (OR=0.58; 95% CI: 0.39-0.85) were less likely to use CAM. Among CAM users, 47.6% did not inform their doctors. However, no factor predicted those who did not inform their doctors of their CAM use.

Conclusions: Many adults in the United States use CAM without informing their doctors. Care providers should inquire about CAM usage from their patients, document them and counsel their patients regarding their use of these less regulated therapies.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Sex Factors
  • United States