This study characterizes the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among adults with and without functional limitations. We also examine the reasons for using CAM and for disclosing its use to conventional medical professionals.
Data were obtained from the 2007 adult CAM supplement and components of the National Health Interview Survey (n = 20,710).
Adults with functional limitations used CAM more frequently than those without (48.7% vs. 35.4%; p < 0.001). Adults with functional limitations used mind-body therapies the most (27.4%) and alternative medical systems the least (4.8%). Relaxation techniques were the most common therapy used by adults with functional limitations, and they used it more often than those without limitations (24.6% vs. 13.7%; P < 0.001). More than half of the adults with functional limitations (51.3%) discussed CAM use with conventional medical professionals, compared with 37.9% of adults without limitations (p < 0.001). The main reason for CAM use was general wellness/disease prevention among adults with and without functional limitations (59.8% vs. 63.1%; P = 0.051).
CAM use among adults with functional limitations is high. Health practitioners should screen for and discuss the safety and efficacy of CAM when providing health care.