Research: MEHTA and co-authors,

Listed in Issue 153


MEHTA and co-authors, Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Osher Institute, Harvard Medical School, 401 Park Drive, Suite 22-A West, Boston, MA 02215, USA,, have surveyed the use of CAM therapies by Asian Americans.


Very little is known about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in Asian Americans, especially on a national level. The aim of this study was to compare CAM use, reasons for use, and disclosure rates between Asian and non-Hispanic white Americans.


Data on CAM use in the past year (excluding prayer) were used from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey for 917 Asian Americans and 20,442 white Americans.


Compared with white Americans, Asian Americans were as likely to use any CAM modality [42 vs. 38%]. Asian Americans were less likely than white Americans to disclose the use of herbal medicines (16 vs. 34%, p < 0.001) and mind/body therapies (15 vs. 25%, p < 0.05). Mind/body therapies were used more often by Asian Indians (31%) than by Chinese (21%) and Filipinos (22%), whereas herbal medicines were used more often by Chinese (32%) than by Filipinos (26%) and Asian Indians (19%). Among Asian Americans, CAM use was associated with being female, having higher education, and having a chronic medical condition; foreign-birth was not associated with CAM use.


Complementary and alternative medicine use is common among Asian Americans, and there are important ethnic variations in use. Asian Americans are less likely than white Americans to disclose CAM use to conventional healthcare providers, suggesting that it is particularly important that physicians query these patients about CAM use.


Mehta DH, Phillips RS, Davis RB, McCarthy EP. Use of complementary and alternative therapies by Asian Americans. Results from the National Health Interview Survey. Journal of General Internal Medicine 22 (6): 762-767, Jun 2007.

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