Survey of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use among American Adults and Children

December 16, 2008

The 2007 National Health Interview Study, an annual interview of more than 23,000 Americans on their health and illness-related experiences, was developed jointly by NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or NCCAM, and the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. This year’s survey included questions about 38 different types of complementary and alternative therapies commonly used in the U.S. The survey concluded that 38% of adults and nearly 12% of children use some form of CAM. Questions about children’s use of CAM therapies were included for the first time in this survey.

Similar percentages have been reported each year since 2002, indicating that CAM users are generally very satisfied with these therapies. CAM use is highest among:
• women (42.8%, vs. 33.5% of men);
• people aged 50 to 59 (with its use increasing in people 60 and above);
• those with higher levels of education;
• those who live in the western US;
• those who are not poor; and
• those who have quit smoking.

The major reasons cited for CAM use were back pain, neck and joint pain, and arthritis, with chiropractic medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy used most often.

In addition, the December issue of Pediatrics published a clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that addresses CAM use among children. The report found that 66% of caregivers do not tell the child’s pediatrician about CAM use. As with adults, CAM use is more frequent among those with chronic disease: over 50% of children with chronic conditions like asthma, ADHD, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, IBS (inflammatory bowel syndrome or disease), and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis received CAM therapies, as opposed to 20 to 40% of healthy children.

One of the most important messages to be gleaned from the survey was that CAM training for pediatricians is often lacking. With teenagers the fastest growing group of type II diabetics in the US and chronic disease more common among children, perhaps more pediatricians will become interested in treating according to the tenets of the Wellness Doctrine. If you missed this important document, which AAHF is urging our members of Congress to support, click here. Our children deserve the very best standard of care. It’s time to contact your member of Congress to support the Wellness Doctrine.

Click here to download the entire report about CAM use among adults and children and here to read the press release from NIH News at NIH’s Department of Health and Human Services, available on NCCAM’s website.

One response to “Survey of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use among American Adults and Children”

  1. fatigue says:

    Hey! I admire your writing and the way you explain things. Some of the comments on here too are insightful. I appreciate you. keep it up!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *