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Complementary and Alternative Medicine
According to a new nationwide government survey, 36 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 years and over use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM 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. When prayer, specifically for health reasons, is included in the definition of CAM, the number of U.S. adults using some form of CAM in the past year rises to 62 percent.
The survey, administered to over 31,000 representative U.S. adults, was conducted as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2002 National Health Interview Survey. Developed by NCCAM and the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, the survey included questions on 27 types of CAM therapies, including acupuncture and chiropractic, and herbs or botanical products, special diets, and megavitamin therapy.
Overall, the survey revealed that CAM use was greater among a variety of population groups, including women; people with higher education; those who had been hospitalized within the past year; and former smokers.
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. 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, 4 percent.
In addition the survey also found 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
* 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.
– Source: The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a component of the National Institutes of Health
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