Original Communication

Journal of Neurology

, Volume 257, Issue 11, pp 1822-1831

Complementary and alternative medicine use among US adults with common neurological conditions

  • Rebecca Erwin WellsAffiliated withDivision for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Osher Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Landmark Center, 401 Park Drive, Suite 22A-WestDepartment of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School Email author 
  • , Russell S. PhillipsAffiliated withDivision of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
  • , Steven C. SchachterAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
  • , Ellen P. McCarthyAffiliated withDivision of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School

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Abstract

Our objective was to determine patterns, reasons for, and correlates of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in US adults with common neurological conditions. We compared CAM use between adults with and without common neurological conditions (regular headaches, migraines, back pain with sciatica, strokes, dementia, seizures, or memory loss) using the 2007 National Health Interview Survey of 23,393 sampled US adults. Adults with common neurological conditions used CAM more frequently than those without (44.1 vs. 32.6%, p < 0.0001); differences persisted after adjustment. For each CAM modality, adults with common neurological conditions were more likely to use CAM than those without these conditions. Nearly half of adults with back pain with sciatica, memory loss, and migraines reported use of CAM. Mind/body therapies were used the most; alternative medical systems were used the least. Over 50% of adults with common neurological conditions who used CAM had not discussed their use with their health care provider. Those with neurological conditions used CAM more often than those without because of provider recommendation, or because conventional treatments were perceived ineffective or too costly. Significant correlates of CAM use among adults with common neurological conditions include higher than high school education, anxiety in the prior year, living in the west, being a former smoker, and light alcohol use. CAM is used more frequently among adults with common neurological conditions than those without. More research on the efficacy of CAM use for common neurological conditions is warranted.

Keywords

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) Sciatic back pain Headaches Seizures Stroke Dementia