Original Research

Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 399-404

First online:

Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Self-Rated Health Status: Results from a National Survey

  • Long T. NguyenAffiliated withDivision for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School Osher Research CenterDivision of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School Email author 
  • , Roger B. DavisAffiliated withDivision for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School Osher Research CenterDivision of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
  • , Ted J. KaptchukAffiliated withDivision for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School Osher Research CenterDivision of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
  • , Russell S. PhillipsAffiliated withDivision for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School Osher Research CenterDivision of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School

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Abstract

Background

Despite the absence of conclusive evidence of effectiveness, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is used by 4 of 10 adults in the US; little is known about the association between CAM use and health status.

Objective

To determine the relation between CAM use and self-reported health status and health improvement over time.

Design and Participants

We performed a secondary database analysis using data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey of non-institutionalized US residents conducted by the National Center of Health Statistics of the Center for Disease Control. We identified CAM users and compared them to non-users. We used multivariable logistic regression to model the health status of respondents. We controlled for confounders including socio-demographic, clinical, and behavioral factors. The models were evaluated for discrimination and calibration.

Main Measures

The likelihood of respondents to report ‘Excellent’ current health and ‘Better’ health than in the prior year.

Key Results

Based on 23,393 respondents, we found 37% of U.S. adults used complementary and alternative medicine and 63% did not use any CAM. Compared to those who did not use CAM, CAM users were more likely to rate their health as ‘Excellent’ (adjusted-odds ratio (AOR) = 1.14, 95% CI = [1.03,1.26]). Similarly, CAM users were more likely to report their health as ‘Better’ than in the prior year (AOR = 1.64, 95% CI = [1.49,1.83]). The c-statistics for the two models were 0.755 and 0.616, respectively.

Conclusion

We found a significant association between CAM use and self-rated excellent health and health improvement over the prior year. Prospective trials are required to determine whether CAM use is causally related to excellent health status and better health than in the prior year.

Key words

NHIS National 2007 survey self-rated health status improvement CAM use mind–body complementary alternative logistic regression c-statistics acupuncture ayurveda chiropractic osteopathic medicine massage therapy integrative care energy healing diet supplements herbal traditional medicine yoga tai chi qigong meditation deep breathing relaxation