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Alternative Medicine

Prevalence of CAM

16 years, 4 months ago

2933  0
Posted on Nov 07, 2003, 12 p.m. By Bill Freeman

Surveys Say that Complementaryand Alternative Medicine Practices are Prevalent Back in 1993, a national survey found that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) plays a significant role in U.S. health care. Since then, CAM therapies have increasingly attracted the attention of medical doctors and researchers as well as the public, the government, and the media.

Surveys Say that Complementary
and Alternative Medicine Practices are Prevalent

Back in 1993, a national survey found that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) plays a significant role in U.S. health care. Since then, CAM therapies have increasingly attracted the attention of medical doctors and researchers as well as the public, the government, and the media. In fact, the use of CAM therapies has increased substantially. In 1997, a study showed that over 40% of Americans used some form of CAM in their health care routine. In 2001, another study revealed that 68% of respondents that were tracked from a 1977 survey reported using at least one CAM therapy. Presently, roughly 64% of U.S medical schools offer CAM courses and several medical insurance companies offer benefits and reimbursements for CAM procedures.

There are numerous CAM therapies that support the relief of different health problems. In the survey, the most prevalent conditions of CAM patients included neck, back, and digestive problems, headaches, depression, and anxiety. The most common therapies included relaxation techniques, herbal medicine, massage, chiropractic, spiritual healing by others, and nutritional supplements. In particular, the use of herbal remedies and nutritional supplements rose 380% and 130%, respectively, between 1990 and 1997.

There are several social, cultural, and personal factors-including health, beliefs, attitudes, and motivations-that influence a person's decision to use CAM therapies. A recent study investigated the reasons why significant numbers of people undergo various CAM therapies. It was demonstrated that the majority of patients find that CAM is more closely tied to their own values and beliefs. CAM patients tend to hold philosophies toward health and life which can be described as holistic. In other words, the majority of CAM users believe that the body, mind, and spirit all play a crucial role in maintaining proper health. Additionally, many CAM patients seem to be disappointed with conventional medicine because they felt this type of health care tends to focus on illness and symptoms instead of health-promoting treatments.

In conclusion, several national studies have shown that the frequency of use of CAM in the U.S. is far higher than previously thought. As the diversity of CAM therapies, providers, and patients expands, it will be interesting to see what the future has in store.

References
Barrett B. Complementary and alternative medicine: what's it all about? WMJ 2001;100(7):20-26.
Eisenberg DM, Davis RB, Ettner S, et al. Trends in alternative medicine use in the United States, 1990-1997. JAMA 1998;280(18):1569-75.
Kessler RC, Davis RB, Foster DF, et al. Long-term trends in the use of complementary and alternative medical therapies in the United States. Ann Intern Med 2001;135(4):262-68.
Wetzel MS, Eisenberg DM, Kaptchuk TJ, et al. Courses involving complementary and alternative medicine at US medical schools. JAMA 1998;280(9):784.
Pelletier KR, Marie A, Krasner M, et al. Current trends in the integration and reimbursement of complementary and alternative medicine by managed care, insurance carriers, and hospital providers. Am J Health Promot 1997;12(2):112-22.
Astin JA. Why patients use alternative medicine. JAMA 1998;279(19):1548-53.

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