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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2 (2005), Issue 4, Pages 557-565
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ecam/neh138
Original Article

The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Among California Adults With and Without Cancer

1Department of Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
2Department of Community Health Sciences and Center for Health Policy Research, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
3Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Los Angeles, USA
4Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Los Angeles, USA
5Department of Health Services, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
6Department of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Southern California, USA
7Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, USA

Received 17 June 2005; Accepted 30 September 2005

Copyright © 2005 Michael S Goldstein et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This article examines the extent and correlates of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among a population-based sample of California adults that is highly diverse in terms of sociodemographic characteristics and health status. As a follow-up to a state-wide health survey of 55 428 people, 9187 respondents were interviewed by phone regarding their use of 11 different types of CAM providers, special diets, dietary supplements, mind–body interventions, self-prayer and support groups. The sample included all participants in the initial survey who reported a diagnosis of cancer, all the non-white respondents, as well as a random sample of all the white respondents. The relation of CAM use to the respondents' demographic characteristics and health status is assessed. CAM use among Californians is generally high, and the demographic factors associated with high rates of CAM use are the same in California as have been found in other studies. Those reporting a diagnosis of cancer and those who report other chronic health problems indicate a similar level of visits to CAM providers. However, those with cancer are less likely to report using special diets, and more likely to report using support groups and prayer. Health status, gender, ethnicity and education have an independent impact upon CAM use among those who are healthy as well as those who report suffering from chronic health problems, although the precise relation varies by the type of CAM used.