Non-Traditional Medicine in America (cont.)

CAM approaches were most often used to treat back pain or problems, colds, neck pain or problems, joint pain or stiffness, and anxiety or depression. However, only about 12 percent of adults sought care from a licensed CAM practitioner, suggesting that most people who use CAM do so without consulting a practitioner. According to the survey, the 10 most commonly used CAM therapies and the approximate percent of U.S. adults using each therapy were:

  • Prayer for own health, 43 percent
  • Prayer by others for the respondent's health, 24 percent
  • Natural products (such as herbs, other botanicals, and enzymes), 19 percent
  • Deep breathing exercises, 12 percent
  • Participation in prayer group for own health, 10 percent
  • Meditation, 8 percent
  • Chiropractic care, 8 percent
  • Yoga, 5 percent
  • Massage, 5 percent
  • Diet-based therapies (such as Atkins, Pritikin, Ornish, and Zone diets), 4 percent.

In addition to gathering data on the use of CAM practices, the survey also sought information about why people use CAM. Key findings indicate that:

  • 55 percent of adults said they were most likely to use CAM because they believed that it would help them when combined with conventional medical treatments;
  • 50 percent thought CAM would be interesting to try;
  • 26 percent used CAM because a conventional medical professional suggested they try it; and
  • 13 percent used CAM because they felt that conventional medicine was too expensive.

Interestingly, the survey also found that about 28 percent of adults used CAM because they believed conventional medical treatments would not help them with their health problem; this is in contrast to previous findings that CAM users are not, in general, dissatisfied with conventional medicine. The results of the survey reveal new patterns of CAM use among various population groups and provide a rich source of data for future research. Furthermore, the survey results provide a baseline for future surveys, as it establishes a consistent definition of CAM that can be used to track trends and prevalence of CAM use.



Source: National Institutes of Health News Release, May 27, 2004

1.Barnes P, Powell-Griner E, McFann K, Nahin R. CDC Advance Data Report #343. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults: United States, 2002. May 27, 2004.


Last Editorial Review: 7/7/2004



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