Approximately 38 percent of adults in the United States use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), according to recent surveys. CAM is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices and products such as herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic, and acupuncture that are not generally considered to be part of conventional medicine.
CAM practices are a frequently used component of Americans' health care regimens. The most commonly used CAM therapies among U.S. adults are natural supplements, deep breathing exercises, meditation, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, acupuncture, massage, and yoga, among others.
Nearly three out of every four adults over age 50 use some kind of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture and herbal medicine, according to a recent study. Older adults use CAM most often to treat back and neck pain, arthritis and joint stiffness and other musculoskeletal conditions.
The rate of usage among older adults is higher than usage among the general population, says Gong-Soog Hong, study co-author and professor of consumer sciences at Ohio State University.
Study findings indicate that 71 percent of older adults used some form of alternative medicine in 2000. The researchers utilized data from the 2000 Health and Retirement Survey, conducted by the University of Michigan. Survey respondents included 848 individuals aged 50 and over. "The percentage of older adults who used alternative medicine was higher than I expected," says Hong.
The survey questioned respondents about their use of acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal medicine, meditation, and breathing exercises. Respondents were more likely to use alternative medicine if they reported difficulty with daily activities, such as carrying groceries, bathing or eating.
"Older adults tend to have more chronic illnesses, and conventional medicine doesn't always solve their ailments or conditions," said Hong. "Alternative medicine provides an important option in response to the need for health care in the United States. We need to know more about who is using alternative medicine and ensuring that they are educated about the medicines and therapies they are using."
A large percentage of respondents indicated dissatisfaction with conventional health care. Individuals with holistic lifestyles are also more likely to seek alternative medicine therapies.
For information about Acupuncture & Massage College’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs call Joe Calareso, Admissions Director, at (305) 595-9500.