The effects of health status on the utilization of complementary and alternative medicine

Winfred Avogo, Jemima A. Frimpong, Patrick A. Rivers, Sam S. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This article addresses the need for comprehensive models that explain the use of complimentary and alternative therapies (CAM). Specifically, the associations between health status, access to care, and patient satisfaction with conventional care and CAM therapies are examined. Design: A cross-sectional survey on Disparities in Quality of Health Care that disproportionately sampled minority groups but was designed to generalize to the US adult population. Methods: Bivariate and multivariate regression techniques are used. Logistic regression models estimate the effects of health status, access to and patient satisfaction with conventional care on utilization of CAM therapies whilst adjusting for socio-economic factors that impact health. Results: An estimated 34.4 per cent of US adults used at least one of four CAM therapies in the two years prior to the survey. Although CAM use was higher among those who perceived themselves to be in excellent or very good health relative to those in fair or poor health, the difference was not statistically significant after adjustments were made. The results, however, showed that those who lacked access to conventional care due to cost and those who had lower satisfaction with the quality of conventional care were more likely to use CAM. Conclusions: Estimates of CAM use in this sample are relatively low but consistent with large national surveys that over-sampled minorities. The article highlights the need to include quality of care when defining satisfaction with conventional health care and reinforces findings that cost of conventional care increases the use of CAM. Implications for the integration of CAM into the health care system are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-275
Number of pages18
JournalHealth Education Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Health status
  • Quality of care
  • US complementary medicine
  • Utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education


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