Utilization of complementary and alternative medicine among racial and ethnic minority populations: implications for reducing health disparities.Annu Rev Nurs Res. 2004; 22:285-313.AR
This chapter provides a review of research literature and describes the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among racial and ethnic minority populations. The relevance of CAM to health disparities is also discussed. Complementary and alternative medicines are terms used to describe methods of health care beyond the usual Western biomedical model. These treatments are prevalent and increasing in the United States. Many CAM therapies are ancient therapies among certain racial and ethnic minorities. Thus, it seems that complementary and alternative medicine is being used and/or could be used to decrease health disparities among these populations. A review of 26 research articles shows that we are at the beginning stages of examining this phenomenon and that CAM use by any population is only now being described. Of the reviewed studies, 19 studies documented use of CAM among racial and ethnic minorities; 7 revealed that CAM is not used more among ethnic groups than among White (non-Hispanic) populations. Although it is known that racial and ethnic people utilize CAM, the vast array of research questions and aims, CAM definitions, CAM practitioners, and diverse research methodologies result in mixed research findings and conclusions. In some instances, utilization of CAM modalities is stated to be a result of culture among particular groups. Even so, there is currently no evidence that scientifically supports the notion that CAM can be used to reduce health disparities within racial and ethnic minority populations.