Objectives: This analysis documents the use of conventional health-care providers, traditional healers, and complementary therapies by Mexican farmworkers; identifies the purposes and perceived helpfulness of these modalities; and delineates variation in the use of traditional healers and complementary therapies. Methods: Two-hundred Mexican farmworkers in North Carolina completed interviews May-September, 2017. The International Complementary and Alternative Medicine Questionnaire (I-CAM-Q) elicited use of conventional health-care providers, traditional healers, and complementary therapies in the previous 12 months. Results: Most of the farmworkers had been treated by a conventional provider (63.0%). One-in-five had been treated by any traditional healer; 19.5% had been treated by a sobador, 4.5% by a curandero, 2.0% by an herbalist, and 2.0% by a spiritual healer. Conventional providers (69.8%) and sobadores (84.6%) most often treated acute conditions; 62.5% had used an herb, 46.0% a vitamin, 57.0% an over-the-counter medicine, and 13.5% a home remedy. Participants used various self-care practices, including music (36.5%), sleep (18.0%), prayer for health (15.0%), and social media (14.0%). Education was inversely associated with the use of a traditional healer and herbs; treatment by a conventional health-care provider was positively associated with using a traditional healer and vitamins. Conclusions: Mexican farmworkers use conventional health-care providers as well as traditional healers and complementary therapies. Research on how use of complementary therapies and a system of medical pluralism affects farmworker health is needed. Health-care providers need to recognize complementary therapy use and provide patient education about ineffective or harmful therapies.
Keywords: Complementary and alternative medicine; health disparities; immigrant workers; medical pluralism; migrant and seasonal farmworkers.