Washington, December 11 (ANI): A nation-wide survey commissioned by the U.S. Government has revealed that about 38 per cent of adults in the country, and 12 per cent of children use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
CAM is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products. It involves treatments with herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic, and acupuncture that are not generally considered to be part of conventional medicine.
The new findings attain significance as they emerge from the first ever survey to include questions on children's use of CAM.
The research was carried out as part of the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an annual study in which tens of thousands of Americans are interviewed about their health- and illness-related experiences.
It included questions on 36 types of CAM therapies commonly used in the U.S.-10 types of provider-based therapies, such as acupuncture and chiropractic, and 26 other therapies that do not require a provider, such as herbal supplements and meditation.
"The 2007 NHIS provides the most current, comprehensive, and reliable source of information on Americans' use of CAM," said Dr. Josephine P. Briggs, director of NCCAM.
"These statistics confirm that CAM practices are a frequently used component of Americans' health care regimens, and reinforce the need for rigorous research to study the safety and effectiveness of these therapies. The data also point out the need for patients and health care providers to openly discuss CAM use to ensure safe and coordinated care," she added.
The 2007 survey results, released in a National Health Statistics Report by NCHS, are based on data from more than 23,300 interviews with American adults, and over 9,400 interviews with adults on behalf a child in their household.
Comparing the results of surveys conducted in 2002 and 2007, the researchers observed that overall use of CAM among adults had remained relatively steady-36 percent in 2002 and 38 percent in 2007.
The researchers, however, added that there had been substantial variation in the use of some specific CAM therapies like deep breathing, meditation, massage therapy, and yoga, which all showed significant increases.
They said that adults used CAM most often to treat pain including back pain or problems, neck pain or problems, joint pain or stiffness/other joint condition, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal conditions. But adult use of CAM therapies for head or chest colds showed a marked decrease from 2002 to 2007.
It was also found that overall use of CAM among children was nearly 12 percent, or about 1 in 9 children.
The researchers said that children were five times more likely to use CAM if a parent or other relative used them.
They also observed some similarities between the characteristics of adult and child CAM users-like socioeconomic status, geographic region, the number of health conditions, the number of doctor visits in the last 12 months, and delaying or not receiving conventional care because of cost are all associated with CAM use.
Among children who used CAM in the past 12 months, CAM therapies were used most often for back or neck pain, head or chest colds, anxiety or stress, other musculoskeletal problems, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD).
"The survey results provide information on trends and a rich set of data for investigating who in America is using CAM, the practices they use, and why," said Dr. Richard L. Nahin, acting director of NCCAM's Division of Extramural Research and co-author of the National Health Statistics Report.
"Future analyses of these data may help explain some of the observed variation in the use of individual CAM therapies and provide greater insights into CAM use patterns among Americans," he added. (ANI)