The benefits of complementary health care, including massage and chiropractic, to military personnel is garnering increasing attention. Some massage therapists even provide massage to personnel on military bases.

New research indicates children of military personnel receive complementary health care, including massage, at a rate higher than that of the general population.

The objective of the study was to evaluate the prevalence, types, perceived effects and factors that influence the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by military children, according to an abstract published on

A survey was administered in two military general pediatric clinics from June to September 2009. Parents completed surveys about their children including the following items: demographic information, a list of specific CAM therapies, family CAM use and child health status. Caregivers completed 278 surveys. The overall use of CAM was 23 percent.

Among the results:

• The most common type of CAM used was herbal therapy (34 percent).

• The CAM therapies most commonly reported to be very helpful were special diets (67 percent), melatonin (57 percent), vitamins and minerals used at doses higher than the recommended daily allowance (50 percent), and massage therapy (50 percent).

• The majority of users reported no side-effects (96 percent).

• Among CAM users, 53 percent had discussed their CAM use with a physician and 47 percent had seen a CAM practitioner.

• Factors associated with CAM use in multiple regression analysis included chronic conditions, parent-and-sibling use of CAM, and parent age over 30 years.

• Primary sources of CAM information were friends and family (68 percent) and doctors (44 percent).

• Common reasons for using CAM were to promote general health (70 percent), to relieve symptoms (56 percent), and to improve quality of life (48 percent).

• Eighty percent (80 percent) of all respondents indicated they would use CAM if recommended by a physician.

“In this military population with access to universal health care, CAM use is higher than the U.S. national average and nearly double that of the 2007 National Health Interview Survey study,” the researchers noted. “Pediatricians should inquire about CAM use and be prepared to provide guidance on this topic.”

“Complementary and alternative medicine used by children in military pediatric clinics” was conducted by investigators at Madigan Army Medical Center in Fort Lewis, Washington, and published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in June 2011.

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