Complementary and alternative medicine is defined as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.
The survey was conducted as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). It was administered to over 31,000 adults.
The survey included questions on 27 types of complementary and alternative therapies commonly used in the United States.
|12% of adults sought care from a licensed practitioner.|
Overall, the survey revealed that complementary and alternative medicine use was greater in women, people with higher education, those who had been hospitalized within the past year, and former smokers.
The survey also provided information on complementary and alternative medicine use by minorities. It determined that African American adults were more likely than white or Asian adults to use complementary and alternative medicine when megavitamin therapy and prayer were included in the definition.
When prayer specifically for health reasons is included in the definition of complementary and alternative medicine, the number of adults using some form of complementary and alternative medicine in the past year rose to 62%.
Complementary and alternative medicine approaches were most often used to treat back pain or problems, colds, neck pain or problems, joint pain or stiffness, and anxiety or depression.
Only about 12% of adults sought care from a licensed complementary and alternative medicine practitioner.
"These new findings confirm the extent to which Americans have turned to complementary and alternative medicine approaches with the hope that they would help treat and prevent disease and enhance quality of life," said Dr Stephen Straus, Director, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
"The data not only assists us in understanding who is using complementary and alternative medicine, what is being used, and why, but also in studying relationships between complementary and alternative medicine use and other health characteristics, such chronic health conditions, insurance coverage, and health behaviors."