Acculturation and the use of complementary and alternative medicine

Dejun Su, Lifeng Li, José A. Pagán

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been growing substantially in the US in recent years. Such a growth in CAM use coincides with an ongoing increase in the proportion of the foreign-born population in the US. The main objective of this study is to examine the relation between acculturation and the use of CAM therapies among immigrants. Data from a CAM supplement to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey were analyzed to estimate the effects of acculturation on the likelihood of using different CAM therapies over the past 12 months prior to the survey. The results suggest that the level of acculturation-as measured by nativity/length of stay in the US and language of interview-is strongly associated with CAM use. As immigrants stay longer in the US or as their use of English becomes more proficient, the likelihood that they use CAM therapies increases as well, and it gradually approaches the level of CAM use by native-born Americans. Moreover, this relation between acculturation and CAM use generally persists even after the effects of socioeconomic status, health insurance coverage, self-reported health status, and other demographic variables have all been taken into consideration. The substantially lower rates of CAM use by recent immigrants and its possible causes warrant further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-453
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Acculturation
  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
  • Immigrants
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Acculturation and the use of complementary and alternative medicine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this