Listed in Issue 193


DAVID and COLLEAGUES, The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, 35 Centerra Parkway, Lebanon, NH 03766, USA. compared the characteristics, health behaviours, and health services utilization of US adults who use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to treat illness to those who use CAM for health improvement.



Using the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the authors compared adult (age >=18 years) NHIS respondents based on whether they used CAM in the prior year to treat an illness (n=973), for health improvement (n=3,281), or for both purposes (n=3,031). The authors used complex survey design methods to make national estimates and examine respondents' self-reported health status, health behaviours, and conventional health services utilization.


Adults who used CAM for health improvement reported significantly better health status and healthier behaviours overall (higher rates of physical activity and lower rates of obesity) than those who used CAM as treatment. While CAM Users in general had higher rates of conventional health services utilization than those who did not use CAM; adults who used CAM as treatment consumed considerably more conventional health services than those who used it for health improvement.


This study suggests that there are two distinct types of CAM User that must be considered in future health services research and policy decisions.


Davis MA, West AN,  Weeks WB,  Sirovich BE. Health behaviors and utilization among users of complementary and alternative medicine for treatment versus health promotion. Source Health Services Research. 46(5): 1402-16, Oct 2011.

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