Use of Mind-Body Therapies Among Young Adults Aged 18-24 Years: Findings From the 2012 National Health Interview Survey

J Adolesc Health. 2018 Aug;63(2):227-232. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.03.014. Epub 2018 Jul 1.


Purpose: To investigate the prevalence, patterns, and satisfaction of use of mind-body therapies (MBTs) in a nationally representative sample of young adults (ages 18-24 years).

Methods: Young adults interviewed in the 2012 National Health Interview Survey were analyzed (n = 3,286). Individual types (e.g., mindfulness) and a combined measure of use of any MBT were assessed. Reasons for and satisfaction with use was also investigated. Design-based F tests and logistic regression were used; all analyses were weighted and stratified by gender.

Results: Overall, 14.6% of young adults used MBT in the past year (9.6% of men and 19.1% of women, p < .001). Among men, higher levels of education, greater numbers of health conditions, and healthy behaviors were associated with greater odds of MBT use. Among women, Latina and black women had lower odds of use (vs. white). Higher education, greater mental distress, and greater numbers of health conditions and healthy behaviors were associated with greater odds of use. While both men and women reported stress reduction and general wellness as top reasons for use, men also reported the use to improve athletic performance.

Conclusions: Young adulthood is a critical period in the life course when individuals are establishing lifestyle and health behaviors that can be enduring. Because stress is a persistent problem, and many MBTs can be helpful with management of stress and anxiety, young adult may be underutilizing these modalities. Public health and educational strategies for greater engagement in MBT among young adults are warranted.

Keywords: Complementary and alternative medicine; Mind–body therapies; Stress reduction; Young adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Mind-Body Therapies / psychology*
  • Mind-Body Therapies / trends*
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Young Adult